AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Shares of Tesla rose slightly Thursday despite news that CEO Elon Musk sold another $3.58 billion worth of the electric vehicle maker’s stock this week.
The stock closed at $157.67, up less than 1% but still close to its two-year lows. Tesla did fare better than the broader U.S. stock market, where concerns about rising interest rates led to a 2.5% drop in the S&P 500 index.
Musk, the new owner of Twitter, sold the Tesla shares from Monday through Wednesday, according to a filing posted Wednesday night with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It wasn’t clear where the proceeds of the sales were being spent.
Musk has sold nearly $23 billion worth of Tesla stock since April, with much of the money likely going to help fund his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. Early last month, he sold nearly $4 billion worth of Tesla shares, according to regulatory filings.
The sale comes as shares of the electric vehicle and solar panel maker have collapsed, losing over half their value since Musk first disclosed in April that he was buying up Twitter stock.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a client note that Musk seems to be changing the Tesla narrative from the fundamental electric vehicle transformation story to becoming a source of funds to finance his Twitter acquisition.
“The Twitter nightmare continues as Musk uses Tesla as his own ATM machine to keep funding the red ink at Twitter which gets worse by the day as more advertisers flee the platform with controversy increasingly driven by Musk,” Ives wrote.
The falling shares of Tesla have bumped Musk from his status as the world’s wealthiest person, with his net worth falling to $174 billion, according to Forbes. He was passed last week by French fashion and cosmetics magnate Bernard Arnault. Most of Musk’s wealth is tied up in shares of Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas.
The takeover of San Francisco-based Twitter has not been smooth, and some big companies have halted advertising on the social media platform. Musk has said that Twitter had “a massive drop in revenue” due to the advertiser losses.
Investors have been punishing Tesla stock of late while Musk has spent much of his time running Twitter, raising concerns that he’s distracted from the car company.
Just this week Twitter dissolved its Trust and Safety Council, the advisory group of around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations that the company formed in 2016 to address hate speech, child exploitation, suicide, self-harm and other problems on the platform.
A message was left with Tesla seeking comment on the stock sale.
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