Tesla names Denholm as board chair
Tesla has named director Robyn Denholm as board chair, fulfilling a demand by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to strip the job from Elon Musk, the electric car maker’s wayward chief executive who has dragged the company through months of turbulence.
The appointment was required as part of a September deal Tesla struck with the securities regulator to settle fraud charges against Musk and Tesla. Legal experts said it was unclear if Denholm, who has been on Tesla’s board for four years, was independent enough for Tesla to comply with the court-approved settlement.
Denholm, 55, joined Tesla as an independent director in 2014 and is the head of its audit committee. She was paid almost $5 million, mainly in stock options, by the company last year, making her the highest remunerated of its board members.
She is finance chief at Australian telecoms firm Telstra and previously worked for Toyota in Australia, according to her LinkedIn profile. She will resign from Telstra to take the Tesla role full-time.
Whether she is independent enough to rein in public outbursts by Musk — who mocked the SEC as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission” on Twitter after the fraud charge settlement — is an open question.
Denholm sat on the board when Musk set production targets for the Model 3 car that were not met, and also when the chief executive tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla private, which prompted the SEC to file fraud charges against him.