Elon Musk sold almost 22 million Tesla shares for $3.58 billion earlier this week, marking the fourth time this year he has unloaded a significant amount of stock.
The transactions happened between December 12 and December 14, according to a Dec. 14 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The recent sales reduce Musk's Tesla stake to approximately 13 percent, according to Bloomberg data, although he is still the largest shareholder.
Musk previously sold almost $4 billion of Tesla stock in early November, shortly after he finalized the purchase of Twitter in a deal worth $44 billion. Before that, he sold a total of almost $15.5 billion of Tesla stock in two tranches—$8.5 billion in April and $6.9 billion in August—to raise enough cash for the purchase of the social media platform.
After the April stock sale, Musk tweeted "no further TSLA sales planned after today." Then in August, he replied "yes" when asked if he was done selling. Including the latest sale, he has offloaded almost $40 billion of Tesla stock since late last year. Tesla shares have plunged 60 percent this year (YTD) as investors grow increasingly concerned about Musk's $44 billion purchase of Twitter.
Tesla's stock price is also affected by rising interest rates that make cars more expensive for consumers and demand issues in China, the company's largest market after the US. In a bid to reassure Tesla stakeholders, he tweeted, "I will make sure Tesla shareholders benefit from Twitter long-term" on Dec. 13. He didn't provide more details, though. In another tweet on the same day, he said, "Tesla will be great long-term, but doesn't control macroeconomic tides."
The billionaire pledged to provide $46.5 billion in equity and debt financing for the purchase of Twitter to cover the $44 billion price tag and the closing costs. Banks, including Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp, committed to providing $13 billion in debt financing.
Musk's $33.5 billion equity commitment included his 9.6 percent Twitter stake, which is worth $4 billion, and the $7.1 billion he had secured from equity investors, including Oracle Corp co-founder Larry Ellison and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
According to Bloomberg, Twitter has big new bills to pay. The company's debt load has risen to about $13 billion, up from $1.5 billion before the acquisition, along with other types of bonds that could be converted into stock.
The social media platform now faces annual interest payments approaching $1.2 billion, and those could get even more expensive as the interest rates on about half of the debt are not locked in and will rise with the market.
Elon Musk's fortune has dropped by $109.4 billion this year to $160.9 billion. As a result, the Tesla CEO is no longer the world's richest person as per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, losing that title to Bernard Arnault, the CEO of French luxury goods giant LVMH.