Musk sells Tesla shares worth US$8.5 bil ahead of Twitter takeover

Musk sells Tesla shares worth US$8.5 bil ahead of Twitter takeover
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SAN FRANCISCO/BENGALURU (April 29): Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk sold US$8.5 billion worth of shares in the electric vehicle maker, US securities filings showed, in sales likely aimed at helping finance his planned purchase of Twitter Inc.

Musk said in a tweet on Thursday that there are "no further TSLA sales planned after today". He sold about 9.6 million shares this week, according to the filings on Thursday and Friday, equating to 5.6% of his stake in the company.

It was not clear whether all of Musk's recent Tesla share sales were reported. Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The sale came after Musk on Monday clinched a deal to buy Twitter for US$44 billion in cash in a transaction that will shift control of the social media platform populated by millions of users and global leaders to the world's richest person. Musk's net worth is US$268 billion, according to Forbes

As part of the deal, Musk said he would provide a US$21 billion equity commitment.

It was not immediately clear how the billionaire would raise the remaining US$12.5 billion of equity financing. Musk holds a 43.61% stake in unlisted rocket company SpaceX, which is reportedly valued at US$100 billion.

Tesla shares rose about 5% in morning trading on Friday.

They have tumbled about 20% since Musk's disclosure of a more than 9% stake in Twitter on April 4.

Musk has been looking for partners to reduce his equity contribution to the deal, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, adding that it is far from certain such a partner will emerge.

This is his first Tesla stock sale since he offloaded US$16.4 billion worth of shares in November and December, after polling Twitter users about selling 10% of his stake in the electric car maker.

Musk said on Twitter that he would pay more than US$11 billion in taxes in 2021 due to his exercise of stock options set to expire this year.

Some traders have fretted this week that Musk may not have enough money sitting around to fund his US$21 billion cash contribution and could walk away from the deal, weighing on Twitter shares.

As part of the Twitter financing deal, Musk secured commitments for US$13 billion in loans secured against Twitter and a US$12.5 billion margin loan tied to his Tesla stock.