More than US$60 billion ($80.8 billion) was wiped off Tesla’s market value early on Monday after millions of Elon Musk’s Twitter followers voted in favour of him selling 10 per cent of his shares in the company.
Tesla shares fell by about 6 per cent in pre-market trading and in early trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange.
Mr Musk tweeted on Saturday that he would let Twitter users decide if he should sell 10 per cent of the 170.5 million shares he holds in Tesla.
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The Twitterverse verdict: 58 per cent of more than 3.5 million voters had said “yes” when the poll closed on Sunday.
“Much is made lately of unrealised gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10 per cent of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?” the Tesla CEO posted.
He added that he would follow the poll’s result whichever way it went, but has not yet announced what, if anything, he will do next.
Mr Musk has previously fallen afoul of regulators for posting tweets that have moved Tesla’s stock price, without previously consulting the board or fully vetting the material information he was providing shareholders.
In 2018, the SEC charged him with fraud, after tweeting that he was considering taking Tesla private.
To settle the charges, Musk agreed to a court-approved deal that required Tesla directors review any social media posts containing information “material” to shareholders.
Months later, after he was called out for defying the order, the settlement was amended to include a specific list of topics Mr Musk needed permission to tweet about.
The list includes tweets about the company’s financial condition, production numbers or new business lines.
Mr Musk receives no salary from Tesla. His 170.5 million shares of Telsa were worth US$208.3 billion ($280.7 billion) as of the close of trading on Friday. At the price of US$1,222.09 ($1646.67) per share, 10 per cent would be valued at US$20.8 billion ($28 billion).
He has owned 80 per cent of those 170.5 million Tesla shares since the company’s initial public offering in 2010.
In addition, he has the option to buy another 73.5 million shares. It’s not clear if those shares would be counted in his holdings if he ends up selling the 10 per cent.
As of Sunday, Mr Musk was the richest man on Earth with a total net worth of US$338 billion ($455.4 billion), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.