Aussie tele­coms ex­ec­u­tive to re­place Musk as Tesla chair

The Herald (South Africa) - - Your Business -

Elec­tric car pi­o­neer Tesla named an Aus­tralian tele­coms ex­ec­u­tive to chair its board of di­rec­tors on Thurs­day, af­ter the con­tro­ver­sial Elon Musk was forced by US au­thor­i­ties to step back from the role.

The ap­point­ment of Robyn Den­holm, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer with Tel­stra and al­ready a Tesla board mem­ber, was ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately but she would serve out her six-month no­tice pe­riod with the Aus­tralian com­pany, Tesla said.

Musk had to re­sign as Tesla chair un­der a Septem­ber ar­range­ment with US reg­u­la­tors to set­tle fraud charges stem­ming from a tweet in which he said he planned to take the firm pri­vate and had fi­nanc­ing to do it.

Un­der that set­tle­ment, he and Tesla each had to pay a $20m (R280m) fine but Musk was al­lowed to stay on as chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Musk would help to ease 55-year-old Den­holm’s tran­si­tion, Tesla said.

“To en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion dur­ing the re­main­der of Robyn’s time at Tel­stra, Elon will be a re­source to Robyn and pro­vide any sup­port that she re­quests in her role as chair,” the elec­tric car maker said.

Musk praised Den­holm’s in­put in her time on Tesla’s board.

“Robyn has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in both the tech and auto in­dus­tries, and has made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions as a Tesla board mem­ber over the past four years in help­ing us be­come a prof­itable com­pany,” he said.

“I look for­ward to work­ing even more closely with Robyn as we con­tinue ac­cel­er­at­ing the ad­vent of sus­tain­able en­ergy.”

Den­holm said: “I be­lieve in this com­pany, I be­lieve in its mis­sion and I look for­ward to help­ing Elon and the Tesla team achieve sus­tain­able prof­itabil­ity and drive long-term share­holder value.”

Musk was forced to re­sign as chair af­ter the US Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion charged him with se­cu­ri­ties fraud.

They al­leged that he mis­led in­vestors when he tweeted on Au­gust 7 that he had “fund­ing se­cured” to delist Tesla at $420 (R5,889) a share, a sub­stan­tial premium over its share price at the time.

The tweet was one of a num­ber of is­sues that raised ques­tions about the bil­lion­aire en­tre­pre­neur’s apt­ness to lead Tesla.

The ty­coon was the sub­ject of con­tro­versy when he smoked a joint dur­ing a Septem­ber pod­cast in­ter­view in Cal­i­for­nia and dis­cussed the end of the uni­verse.

Den­holm has been chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and head of strat­egy at Tel­stra, Aus­tralia’s for­mer tele­phone mo­nop­oly, since the start of Oc­to­ber.

For 18 months prior to that she was Tel­stra’s chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer, and pre­vi­ously held se­nior roles at net­work­ing equip­ment com­pany Ju­niper Net­works.

Tel­stra chief ex­ec­u­tive Andy Penn said: “We are sorry to see Robyn leave Tel­stra.

“We know that it has be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to bal­ance her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as Tel­stra CFO with the in­creased ac­tiv­ity of the Tesla board.”

Pic­ture: REUTERS

ROBYN DEN­HOLM

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