Business

Elon Musk sells nearly $7B US in Tesla shares ahead of Twitter fight

Elon Musk has sold nearly $7 billion US worth of shares in Tesla as the billionaire gets his finances in order ahead of his court battle with Twitter. Musk says he made the move to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock.

Musk says funds could be used to finance a potential Twitter deal if required

In this file photo, SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk attends a press conference in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Jan. 19, 2020. Musk has sold nearly $7 billion US in Tesla shares ahead of his court battle with Twitter. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

Elon Musk has sold nearly $7 billion US worth of shares in Tesla as the billionaire gets his finances in order ahead of his court battle with Twitter.

Musk disclosed in a series of regulatory filings that he unloaded about eight million shares of his company Tesla Inc. in recent days.

"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," Musk tweeted late Tuesday.

Musk is by far the largest individual shareholder in both Tesla and Twitter.

Shares of Tesla rose almost two per cent before the opening bell Wednesday. Shares of Twitter Inc., up 16 per cent in the past month with most believing Musk faces long-shot odds of success in court, jumped another three per cent.

Musk offered to buy Twitter, then tried to back out

Musk countersued Twitter last week, accusing the company of fraud over his aborted $44-billion acquisition. He claimed that Twitter held back critical information and misled his team about the size of its user base.

Musk alleges that Twitter committed fraud, breach of contract and violation of a securities law in Texas, where Musk lives.

Musk offered to buy Twitter earlier this year, then tried to back out of the deal claiming the social platform was infested with a larger numbers of "spam bots" and fake accounts than Twitter had disclosed.

Musk said in the spring that he planned no major sales of his stake in Tesla after lining up financing to acquire Twitter, but Dan Ives, an industry analyst with Wedbush, said Wednesday that "the situation has dramatically changed."

Wedbush raised its target price for shares of Twitter, "With the chances of a Twitter deal now more likely in our opinion and the Street seeing through this poker move by Musk," Ives wrote to clients.

"We can also see Musk trying to resolve this powder keg situation before the Twitter deal officially heads to court in October," Ives went on. "At a minimum, we see Twitter getting a massive settlement from Musk in the $5 billion to $10 billion range that is starting to be factored into the stock."

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