Elon Musk in line for R40-billion payday

Elon Musk in line for R40-billion payday

It was sold as an all-or-nothing moonshot into space, the boldest pay package in corporate history. Now, with Tesla’s stock on a seemingly unstoppable rise, Elon Musk is poised to collect the second tranche of his pay award, worth US$2.4-billion (R40-billion).

Barring a sudden drop in the electric car maker’s shares, the final performance threshold tied to market value should be met in a matter of days. That would unlock 1.69 million stock options, yielding Musk the 10-figure sum if he were to exercise and immediately sell the shares.

The remarkable payout follows an equally remarkable ride for Tesla, whose shares have more than quadrupled this year and ballooned Musk’s net worth to $70.5-billion, making him the seventh richest person on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The automaker is currently worth more than Toyota, Volkswagen and Hyundai combined.

The rally has left Wall Street analysts struggling to make sense of the firm’s valuation, which topped $300-billion on Monday. Some have focused on the company’s work to improve batteries or the prospect that it may soon start selling cars in India.

Tesla is scheduled to release second quarter results on 22 July. If it reports a profit, it would be the fourth consecutive such quarter — a milestone needed to be considered for inclusion in the S&P 500 Index.

Musk, 49, has never accepted a salary, with his pay instead consisting of option awards that he can collect only if the California-based company meets ambitious targets.

The most recent iteration, unveiled in early 2018, was the largest-ever corporate pay deal struck between a company’s board and its CEO. It includes 20.3 million options, split into 12 tranches, that could yield Musk more than $50-billion if all goals are met, according to Tesla’s estimates.


Getting all of it, however, is far from certain. Each tranche is tied to specific targets for revenue, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, as well as Tesla’s average trailing market capitalisation over 30 days and six months. The first market-value threshold was set at $100-billion, with the others following in $50-billion increments.

Tesla reached its first milestones for sales and Ebitda — $20-billion and $1.5-billion, respectively — last year. And its 30-day market value average has been well above the $150-billion threshold for some time. Once the six-month average exceeds that level, Musk will claim the 1.69 million options and can exercise them at will.

Musk said on Twitter last week that he could cash in on some of his stock eventually to further the mission of his other high-profile company, SpaceX.