Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

New chair at Tesla: Robyn Denholm replaces Elon Musk

New chair at Tesla: Robyn Denholm replaces Elon Musk

Denholm only worked as the CFO of Telstra for a month before accepting the position of chairman at Tesla, but she still reportedly plans to stay at the company for another 6 months stating that she plans to devote her attention full time to Tesla once her obligations to Telstra are complete. Besides Telstra, her previous experience includes Juniper Network, Sun Microsystems and Toyota.

Announcing the appointment, Tesla said in a statement that to "ensure a smooth transition...."

A corporate governance expert questioned whether Denholm is the right person for the job, given that she was a member of Tesla's board for four years yet failed to rein in the visionary yet erratic Musk.

The 55-year-old Australian will temporarily step down as chair of Tesla's audit committee until she quits Telstra.

Musk was compelled to relinquish his role as chairman in a deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over his false assertion on Twitter that he had secured funding to take the company private.

According to an announcement shared by Tesla, Denholm will serve as the board chairperson on a full-time basis.

The appointment marks the end of an era for Musk, 47, who became chairman when he led a US$7.5 million initial investment in Tesla in April 2004.

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Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk stands on the podium as he attends a forum on startups in Hong Kong, China January 26, 2016.

Email messages sent to Denholm Thursday were not immediately returned. Musk, still the firm's largest shareholder, stays on as CEO and keeps a board seat. Since it went public in 2010, Tesla has posted a profit in only two quarters: once in 2013 and again in 2016.

A big jump in Tesla's output of its mass-market Model 3 vehicle powered the breakthrough. However, the suggestion was squashed by Musk who tweeted out a definitive "This is incorrect".

Apart from appointing a new chairman under the settlement, Tesla was required to appoint two new independent members to its board.

Murdoch is also an independent director on Tesla's board.

Last month Tesla and Musk were both fined $20 million over the tweets in which he claimed he was taking the company private at $420 a share, which the SEC alleges was a number chosen as a joke with his singer girlfriend, Grimes, who introduced him to marijuana.

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