Tesla’s Musk says he sold ‘enough stock’; slams California for ‘overtaxation’


Tesla Chief Executive Office Elon Musk speaks at his company’s factory in Fremont, California, June 22, 2012, as the car company began delivering its Model S electric sedan. REUTERS/Noah Berger/File Photo

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San Francisco, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he had sold “enough stock” to reach his plan to sell 10% of his shares in the world’s most valuable car company, according to an interview released on Tuesday.

The billionaire, who moved the company’s headquarters from California to Texas this month after his personal move, also slammed California for “overtaxation” and “overregulation.”

Tesla shares, which had hovered near record highs, lost about a quarter of their value after Musk said on Nov. 6 he would sell 10% of his stake if Twitter users agreed.

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Tesla shares surged nearly 4% in morning trade on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Musk sold another 583,611 shares, bringing the total number of shares he has offloaded to 13.5 million – about 80% of what he had planned to sell.

“I sold enough stock to get to around 10% plus the option exercise stuff and I tried to be extremely literal here,” he said in the interview with conservative satirical website Babylon Bee.

When asked whether he sold the stock because of the Twitter poll, he said he needed to exercise stock options that are expiring next year “no matter what.” He added he sold additional “incremental stock” to get near 10%.

Out of the 13.5 million shares sold, 8.06 million were sold to pay taxes related to his options exercise, according to Tesla’s securities filings.

Musk still has more than 3 million stock options which expire in August next year, which could prompt him to sell a portion of them to pay for taxes if he follows his previous sales patterns.

On Sunday, he said on Twitter that he would pay more than $11 billion in taxes this year.

“California used to be the land of opportunity and now it is… becoming more so the land of sort of overregulation, overlitigation, overtaxation,” he said, adding it was “increasingly difficult to get things done” in California.

He has said his tax rate tops 50%, which would include federal and state income taxes. Musk said last year that he had relocated from California to Texas where he faces no income tax.

Musk also said the “metaverse,” a technology buzzword which refers to shared virtual world environments, is not compelling, saying playing video games with goggles can cause motion sickness; “Sure, you can put a TV on your nose.”

“I think we’re far from disappearing into the metaverse. This sounds just kind of buzzword-y.”

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin. Editing by Gerry Doyle and Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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