By Mike Murphy
Elon Musk sold almost $7 billion in Tesla Inc. stock in recent days, according to filings Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and indicated he wants cash on hand as his legal fight with Twitter Inc. heats up.
According to the filings , the Tesla chief executive sold around 7.9 million shares between Friday and Tuesday, at prices ranging from $838.57 to $911.75 — roughly $6.88 billion in total.
Last week, Tesla shareholders approved plans for a 3-for-1 stock split , which will take place Aug. 24. Trading will begin on a stock split-adjusted basis on Aug. 25, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Musk last sold a tranche of Tesla stock — about $4 billion worth — in April, after agreeing to buy Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -3.17% for $44 billion, a deal he is now trying to get out of . In an April 28 tweet, he said: “No further TSLA sales planned after today.”
In a tweet Tuesday night, Musk again said he was done selling, adding: “In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock.”
“This stock sale will raise a lot of conversation on Street for bulls/bears in the morning,” Dan Ives, managing director and senior equity analyst at Wedbush, tweeted Tuesday night . “Musk tweet confirms our thoughts on Twitter. Street will read through this poker move that chances of Twitter deal more likely now.”
Late last year, Musk sold about 10% of his stake in the electric-car company, selling about $16 billion worth of stock, largely to pay taxes. But over that time he also exercised options to buy about 16.4 million stock options at about $6.24 a share, actually increasing his stake in Tesla.
Musk is the wealthiest person in the world, as ranked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index , with a fortune of around $250 billion.
Separately, Musk tweeted Wednesday that a Tesla 500 mile range Semi truck will start shipping this year, to be followed by the Cybertruck next year.
Tesla shares /zigman2/quotes/203558040/composite TSLA -8.56% were up 3.2% Wednesday, but have fallen 17% year to date, compared to the S&P 500’s roughly 14% decline.