Tesla names new chairman
Tesla’s board has named one of its own as chairman to replace Elon Musk, complying with terms of a fraud settlement with U.S. securities regulators.
The electric car and solar panel company’s board on Thursday named Australian telecommunications executive Robyn Denholm as chairman, effective immediately.
Denholm will step down as chief financial officer and strategy head at Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunications company, after a six-month notice period. She’ll work full time at Tesla, where she has served on the board since 2014.
Musk will remain as Tesla’s chief executive as part of the settlement deal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The U.S. agency filed a lawsuit alleging that Musk duped investors in August with misleading statements on Twitter about securing the funding to take Tesla private.
The move vaults Denholm, 55, from relative obscurity into a highprofile position of trying to rein in Musk and manage a company that is struggling to produce vehicles and make money as it attempts to shift the world from fueling transportation with oil to batterypowered electric vehicles.
“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,” Denholm said in a statement.
Critics of Tesla’s board have said members lack independence and are too closely allied with Musk, many through financial deals. Musk’s brother, Kimbal, is one of the members.
Although Denholm appears to have fewer ties to Musk than other directors, she still was on the board through numerous cases of bizarre behavior by Musk, including his surprise tweet to take Tesla private, smoking what looked like marijuana during a YouTube interview, and labeling a British diver a pedophile in a dispute over the rescue of Thai youth soccer players who were trapped in a cave.
Email messages sent to Denholm were not immediately returned.