Tesla names new independent chairman as part of SEC deal

Ivan Schwartz
November 8, 2018

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Electric auto manufacturer Tesla said Robyn Denholm, now chief financial officer (CFO) at Australian telecom operator Telstra Corp Ltd, will replace Elon Musk as its chair.

Mr Musk and Tesla settled with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in September after the agency sued for fraud.

Musk had agreed to vacate his post as board chairperson as part of a settlement with USA regulators of a lawsuit alleging he duped investors with misleading statements about a proposed buyout of the company.

Musk did not comment about the move on Twitter, but he did laud his colleague in a company statement.

'I believe in this company. Tesla says that in order to ensure a smooth transition during that time, "Elon Musk will be a resource to Robyn and provide any support that she requests in her role as chair". Tesla's shares soared following his comments.

Tesla's board, which includes Musk's brother Kimbal, has long come under fire from corporate governance experts for lacking independence and being comprised of Musk loyalists.

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Board member Robyn Denholm was named as Tesla chair late on Wednesday. "Do you ask the person who helped get you lost in the woods to help drive you out of the woods?"

The company had until next week to name the new chairman.

The experienced businesswoman will undergo a six-month notice period with Telstra before serving as Tesla Chair on a full-time basis.

The spokeswoman also said Tesla was actively looking for two additional independent directors. Musk was required to pay the commision 20 million dollars which Tesla also accepted a 20 million dollar fine. She also has held financial management posts at Toyota Motor Corp.in Australia. The Australian telecommunications executive will assume the role immediately, the company announced this morning. "Very much look forward to working together", he wrote. Telsa has never reported an annual profit. The mid-priced Tesla Model 3 was the fifth bestselling passenger vehicle in America, according to the industry analyst Edmunds. The manufacturing increase and moneymaking quarter are two things that Musk promised would happen.

The settlement requires Tesla to install an independent chairman, among other penalties.

The appointment of Denholm caps months of turbulence for Tesla amid investor demands for stronger oversight. In it, Musk said he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share - and had funding secured.

Neither Musk nor Tesla admitted or denied the SEC's findings as part of the settlement.

Other reports by GizPress

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