Dec 22 (Reuters) – Tesla (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Thursday he will not sell any more Tesla stock for about two years.
While speaking in a Twitter Spaces audio chat, Musk said he foresees the economy will be in a “serious recession” in 2023 and demand for big-ticket items will be lower.
His comments came after a Tesla stock sell-off deepened on Thursday over worries about softening demand for electric cars and Musk’s distraction with Twitter and his stock sales.
“I won’t sell stock until I don’t know probably two years from now. Definitely not next year under any circumstances and probably not the year thereafter,” Musk said.
Shares of Tesla rose 3% to $129.23 in after-hours trading on Thursday following an 8.9% drop in regular trading hours.
Musk has previously made promises about not selling Tesla stock before subsequently selling it. Last week, Musk disclosed another $3.6 billion in stock sales, taking his total near $40 billion since late last year and frustrating investors as the company’s shares wallow at over two-year lows.
“I needed to sell some stock to make sure, like, there’s powder dry…to account for a worst case scenario,” the billionaire said.
He said Tesla’s board is open to share buyback, but that will depend on the scale of a recession.
On Thursday, Tesla stocks plunged 9%, after Tesla started to offer deep, $7,500 discounts to U.S. consumers, fueling investor concerns about softening demand as the economy slows.
“I think there is going to be some macro drama that’s higher than people currently think,” he said, adding that homes and cars will get “disproportionately impacted” by economic conditions.
Musk said that Tesla is close to picking the location of its new “Gigafactory.” Tesla could announce the construction of a “Gigafactory” in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon as soon as Friday, with an initial investment of between $800 million and $1 billion, local newspaper Reforma reported on Monday.
Asked whether he would bring in someone such as venture capitalist David Sacks to run Twitter to allow him to focus on Tesla, Musk dodged the question and said Twitter was a relatively simple business.
“(Twitter) is maybe 10% of the complexity of Tesla,” Musk said.
Musk said earlier this week that he will step down as chief executive of Twitter once he finds “someone foolish enough to take the job.”
In response to concerns that his political views and controversial comments are alienating some people, he said, “I am not going to like sort of suppress my views just to boost the stock price.”
Musk has increasingly used Twitter’s live audio platform to weigh in on his product and strategic decisions at the social media company he took private in October in a $44 billion deal.
Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Greg Bensinger in San Francisco, Sheila Dang and Kenneth Li; Editing by Sandra Maler
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