BUSINESS OF LONG-SERVING DIRECTOR REPLACES MUSK AT HELM
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.