Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Representational Image // The Summit 2013 – Picture by Dan Taylor / Heisenberg Media – http://www.heisenbergmedia.com

Billionaire technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, has sold about $5 billion worth of Tesla shares, according to regulatory filings, now leaving one of the richest person in the world with more than 166 million shares in the EV manufacturer.

According to the filings, Musk had sold 9, 34, 091 shares for about $1.1 billion after exercising options to acquire nearly 2.2 million shares, and sold another nearly 3.6 million shares worth around $4 billion. The shares were sold so that Musk could satisfy tax obligations related to exercising stock options.

This is Musk’s first share sale since 2016.

Can this be termed as the sequel to his Twitter poll this weekend, where Musk asked his followers whether he should sell 10% of his stock? (If you don’t remember, a vast majority had voted “yes,” and Musk had said in his tweet that he would abide by the decision, whatever it would be). Perhaps not, since the filings showed that about a fifth of the shares was sold based on a trading plan that had been set up in September, weeks before Musk took to Twitter to ask his followers.

The shares that were sold make up nearly 3% of Musk’s total holdings in Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer, whose valuation recently surpassed $1 trillion, making it the fifth such firm to reach the milestone. Tesla’s shares fell by around 16% in the two days after the results of the poll had come out, but they went up a little – 4.3% on Wednesday.

Musk still holds more than 20 million stock options, worth nearly $30 billion, which expire in August, and many of those options are unlikely to qualify for preferential tax treatment.

According to Mark Arnold, chief investment officer at Hyperion Asset Management, Brisbane, if Musk carried out the 10% stock sale plan, it would be a slight negative near term.

“But the stock is pretty liquid and it’s not a huge percentage of total issued shares, so it shouldn’t have that much of an impact … we’re quite comfortable with the outlook for the business,” he said.