Musk is selling $6.9 billion worth of Tesla stock, citing the possibility of a compelling Twitter deal

Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory groundbreaking ceremony on January 7, 2019 in Shanghai, China. REUTERS/Aly Song

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Aug 10 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) CEO Elon Musk sold $6.9 billion worth of shares in the electric vehicle maker, saying the funds could be used to fund a potential Twitter deal if he loses a legal battle with the social media platform.

“If Twitter is forced to close this deal (unlikely) and some equity shareholders don’t come through, it’s important to avoid a rush sell of Tesla stock,” he said in a tweet late Tuesday.

In early July, Musk closed his April 25 deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion. Twitter has sued Musk to end the transaction, after the tech stock plunged after he dismissed claims he was misled about the number of spam accounts on the social media site as buyer’s remorse. Both parties are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 17.

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“The Street will read with this poker move that the chances of a Twitter deal are high,” tweeted Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

In other comments on Twitter on Tuesday, Musk said “yes” when asked if he was done selling Tesla stock, and said he would buy back Tesla stock if the Twitter deal didn’t go through.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Musk, the world’s richest man, sold $8.5 billion worth of Tesla shares in April and said at the time that the sale was not planned. But since then, legal experts have suggested that Musk is likely to sell more Tesla shares if he is forced to complete the acquisition or settle the dispute with a stiff fine.

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Musk sold about 7.92 million shares between Aug. 5 and Aug. 9, according to multiple filings. He now owns 155.04 million Tesla shares, or less than 15% of the automaker, according to Reuters calculations.

The latest sale brings Musk’s total Tesla stock sales to about $32 billion in less than a year.

Tesla shares have risen nearly 15% since the automaker posted better-than-expected earnings on July 20, helped by the Biden administration’s climate bill, which, if passed, would increase tax credits for electric vehicles.

On Tuesday, Musk teased that he might launch his own social media platform. Asked if the Twitter user had thought about starting his own site if the deal didn’t go through, he replied: “X.com.”

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Akriti Sharma in Bangalore; Additional reporting by Shubham Kalia and Shivam Patel; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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