Tesla shares up 7% after CEO Musk says he has sold ‘enough’ stock

San Francisco, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) shares surged 7% on Wednesday after Chief Executive Elon Musk said in an interview he has sold “enough stock” following several weeks of share sales by the billionaire.

Musk, who moved the company’s headquarters from California to Texas earlier this month, in an interview published on Tuesday also criticized California for “overtaxation” and “overregulation.”

Tesla shares, which had hovered near record highs, lost about a quarter of their value after Musk said on Nov. 6 he would sell 10% of his stake if Twitter users agreed.

Tesla shares were up 7.4% at $1,008.30 on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Musk sold another 934,091 shares, bringing the total number of shares he has offloaded to 13.8 million – shy of the 17 million or so shares he was expected to sell.

“I sold enough stock to get to around 10% plus the option exercise stuff and I tried to be extremely literal here,” he said in the interview on Tuesday with conservative satirical website Babylon Bee.

Asked whether he sold the stock because of the Twitter poll, he said on Tuesday he needed to exercise stock options that are expiring next year “no matter what.” He added he sold additional “incremental stock” to get near 10%.

Out of the 13.8 million shares sold, 8.4 million were sold to pay taxes related to his options exercise, according to Tesla’s securities filings.

Musk still has more than 3 million stock options that expire in August next year, which could prompt him to sell a portion of them to pay for taxes if he follows his previous sales patterns.

On Sunday, he said on Twitter that he would pay more than $11 billion in taxes this year.

“California used to be the land of opportunity and now it is … becoming more so the land of sort of overregulation, overlitigation, overtaxation,” he said, adding it was “increasingly difficult to get things done” in California.

He has said his personal tax rate tops 50%, which would include federal and state income taxes. Musk said last year that he had relocated from California to Texas where he faces no income tax.

Musk also said the “metaverse,” a technology buzzword that refers to shared virtual environments, is not compelling, adding that playing video games with goggles can cause motion sickness. “Sure, you can put a TV on your nose.”

“I think we’re far from disappearing into the metaverse. This sounds just kind of buzzword-y.”

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco Editing by Bernadette Baum and Matthew Lewis

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