Tesla Names James Murdoch and Linda Johnson Rice to Board

Ivan Schwartz
July 18, 2017

James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox and son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has joined the board of Tesla, after months of pressure from investors about the lack of independent directors on the electric vehicle company's board.

They noted, for example, that Tesla CEO Elon Musk's brother serves on Tesla's board.

Murdoch is the son of Fox Co-Chairman Rupert Murdoch, and Rice has chaired the publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines since 2010.

Tesla Inc said on Monday that it had appointed two new directors to its board, including Twenty-First Century Fox Inc Chief Executive James Murdoch, increasing its board size to nine.

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Musk responded by first chiding these investors, which include the California State Teachers' Retirement System and CtW Investment Group, and then saying the company was already seeking independent board members. The group had also called for directors to face a shareholder vote over re-election each year.

The same investor group also asked for annual elections for board directors, a proposal which was failed at the company's annual shareholder meeting in June. James previously acted as News Corp's Europe and Asia CEO, too, prior to taking over leadership of 21st Century Fox, one of two spin-outs of the original News Corporation focused primarily on film and television. She has been active on other boards, including as a director for Omnicom Group Inc. since 2000 and GrubHub Inc.

Rice heads Ebony Media Operations and has served on numerous corporate and charitable boards.

Enthusiasm for the Model 3 has sent shares soaring more than 50% this year, though the stock has fallen in the past few weeks - including 2.5% on Monday - following disappointing second-quarter sales figures.

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