The Star Late Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT -

TESLA ap­pointed a direc­tor who’s been on its board for years to re­place Elon Musk as chair­per­son, stir­ring sus­pi­cion as to whether the mer­cu­rial chief ex­ec­u­tive will be re­strained af­ter costly run-ins with se­cu­ri­ties reg­u­la­tors. Robyn Den­holm, 55, will as­sume the chair­per­son’s role im­me­di­ately. A direc­tor since 2014, she’ll leave her po­si­tion as chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and head of strat­egy at Aus­tralian telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany Tel­stra Corp af­ter a six-month no­tice pe­riod. The ap­point­ment marks the end of an era for Musk, 47, who be­came chair­per­son when he led a $7.5 mil­lion ini­tial in­vest­ment in Tesla in April 2004. His prob­lem­atic Au­gust tweets about try­ing to take the com­pany pri­vate caused months of chaos and cul­mi­nated in a settlement with the US Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion. The agency sought to im­prove the gov­er­nance of a board long crit­i­cised for be­ing too closely aligned with its bil­lion­aire leader. “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. Tesla rose 0.6 per­cent to $350.25 (nearly R4 899) in New York be­fore the start of trad­ing yes­ter­day. Ced­ing the role of chair­per­son was a con­di­tion of the ac­cord Musk reached with the SEC to set­tle fraud charges re­lated to his tweets on taking the com­pany pri­vate.

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