Elon Musk says he won’t sell Tesla stock for about two years

Tesla (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said Thursday he would not sell Tesla stock for about two years.

Speaking in an audio chat from Twitter Spaces, Musk said he expects the economy to be in a “severe recession” in 2023 and demand for large items to be lower.

His comments came after a sell-off in Tesla shares deepened on Thursday over concerns about slowing demand for electric cars and Musk’s distraction from Twitter and his stock sales.

“I will not sell any shares until I know, probably in two years. Definitely not next year, under any circumstances and probably not the year after,” Musk said.

Shares of Tesla rose 3% in after-hours trading on Thursday to $129.23 after falling 8.9% during regular trading hours.

Musk has previously promised not to sell Tesla shares before later selling them. Last week, Musk announced another $3.6 billion in stock sales, raking in his nearly $40 billion total since late last year, and frustrating investors as the company’s shares tumble to more than two-year lows.

“I had to sell some stocks to make sure powder was dry… to account for a worst-case scenario,” the billionaire said.

He said Tesla’s board is open to a share buyback, but that will depend on the depth of a recession.

On Thursday, Tesla shares plunged 9% after Tesla began offering deep rebates of $7,500 to US consumers, stoking investor concerns about slacking demand amid the economy’s slowdown.

“I think there’s going to be macro drama that’s bigger than people think right now,” he said, adding that homes and cars will be “disproportionately” affected by economic conditions.

Musk said that Tesla is close to choosing the location of its new “Gigafactory.” Tesla could announce the construction of a “gigafactory” in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon as early as Friday with an initial investment of between 800 million and 1 billion US dollars, local newspaper Reforma reported on Monday.

When asked if he would get someone like venture capitalist David Sacks to run Twitter so he could focus on Tesla, Musk dodged the question, saying Twitter was a relatively easy business.

“(Twitter) is maybe 10% of Tesla’s complexity,” Musk said.

Musk said earlier this week that he would step down as Twitter’s chief executive as soon as he “finds someone stupid enough to take the job.”

Responding to concerns that his political views and controversial comments are alienating some people, he said, “I will not like to suppress my views just to boost the share price.”

Musk has increasingly used Twitter’s live audio platform to weigh his product and strategic decisions at the social media company, which he privatized in October in a $44 billion deal.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Greg Bensinger in San Francisco, Sheila Dang and Kenneth Li; Edited by Sandra Painter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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