Tesla picks in­sider to re­place Musk as chair­man af­ter tur­moil

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Front Page -

SAN FRAN­CISCO: Tesla Inc chose Robyn Denholm to suc­ceed Elon Musk as chair­man of its board, putting an in­de­pen­dent direc­tor into the po­si­tion of con­tend­ing with the car­maker’s mer­cu­rial chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer fol­low­ing his run-ins with reg­u­la­tors and in­vestors.

Denholm, 55 – one of two women on Tesla’s nine-mem­ber board – would as­sume the role of chair­man ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, Tesla said.

A direc­tor since 2014, she will leave her po­si­tion as chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and head of strat­egy at Aus­tralian phone com­pany Tel­stra Corp at the end of her six-month no­tice pe­riod.

The ap­point­ment marks the end of an era for Musk, 47, who be­came chair­man when he led a US$7.5mil ini­tial in­vest­ment in Tesla in April 2004.

While Musk will re­main CEO and a board direc­tor, the fall­out from his Twit­ter posts – which started with a claim that he se­cured fund­ing and sup­port to buy out in­vestors at US$420 a share – will last for years to come.

“While Denholm is tech­ni­cally an in­de­pen­dent mem­ber of the board, she has been part of the Musk team for some time now and that sug­gests she will not be up to the task of check­ing Musk’s worst in­stincts,” said Stephen Di­a­mond, a pro­fes­sor of law at Santa Clara Univer­sity who spe­cialises in cor­po­rate gov­er­nance.

“And, of course, that was the whole point of the SEC set­tle­ment.”

Ced­ing the role of chair was a con­di­tion of the ac­cord Musk reached with the US Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion in Septem­ber to set­tle fraud charges re­lated to his tweets on tak­ing the com­pany pri­vate.

In ad­di­tion to agree­ing to a three­year ban from serv­ing as chair, Musk and Tesla agreed that the com­pany would add two new in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tors to the board by late De­cem­ber.

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