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Elon Musk Sells $7B in Tesla Stock Amid Twitter Takeover Dispute

Tesla CEO acknowledges that his legal fight with Twitter played a part in the stock sale.

Elon Musk's profile picture on his Twitter page
Sarah Tew/CNET

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has recently sold 7.92 million shares of the carmaker worth about $6.9 billion, according to regulatory filings made public Tuesday.

The stock sale, which occurred between Aug. 5 and 9, comes amid a legal battle between Musk and Twitter, which the billionaire entrepreneur offered to buy for $44 billion earlier this year but has since informed Twitter he was ending the agreement. Musk admitted that possible financial burden played a role in his decision to sell the stock.

"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 said in a tweet Tuesday evening. He also wrote that he was done selling Tesla stock and would become a buyer again if the Tesla deal doesn't close.

Musk has said that Twitter "hoodwinked" him into signing a $44 billion deal to purchase the social media platform and is trying to back out of the deal. Twitter responded in July with a lawsuit against Musk to enforce the merger agreement and alleged that the billionaire is trying to get out of acquiring the company because his personal wealth has fallen and the purchase has thus become more expensive.

Musk denied Twitter's claims and alleges that Twitter failed to provide him information to verify that fewer than 5% of Twitter's more than 220 million daily users were spam-focused or fake, an important metric for understanding Twitter's ads business. The billionaire claims Twitter misrepresented or omitted information that would shed light on the company's value. 

Twitter and Musk are expected to head to trial on Oct. 17 if they don't reach a settlement. Twitter's shareholders are scheduled to vote on the deal in a special meeting on Sept. 13.

Musk sold about $8.5 billion worth of Tesla shares in April in the wake of announcing his deal to buy Twitter. Tesla shares were trading at $1,145 when he announced his bid for Twitter. The share price has since fallen more than 25%.