Fri, Nov 09, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Telstra CFO named as Tesla chair


Tesla Inc said that board member Robyn Denholm would replace CEO Elon Musk as its chair, more than a month after the billionaire had to step down from the position as part of a settlement with US regulators.

Tesla had until Tuesday next week to name an independent board chairperson under a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which said that Musk’s tweets about taking the company private were fraudulent and that the billionaire could retain his role as CEO, but should quit as chairman.

Musk in August said that he was considering taking Tesla private for US$420 a share and that he had secured funding for a deal, which was later scuttled, but attracted scrutiny from several government agencies.

The appointment of Denholm caps months of turbulence for the company and its stock and investors called for stronger oversight of Musk, whose recent erratic public behavior raised concerns about his ability to steer the company through a rocky phase of growth.

Denholm is currently chief financial officer (CFO) at Australian telecoms operator Telstra Corp Ltd and has been an independent director on Tesla’s board since 2014.

Denholm is to leave her role as CFO and head of strategy at Telstra once her six-month notice period with the company is complete, Tesla said late on Wednesday.

She was appointed as Telstra’s CFO in July.

Tesla said that Denholm would be serving as chairwoman on a full-time basis and she would temporarily step down as chair of the company’s audit committee until she leaves Telstra.

The automaker last month quieted some critics after it reported a net profit, positive cash flow and wider-than-expected margins in the third quarter, delivering on Musk’s promise to turn the company profitable.

A Tesla spokeswoman said that Denholm would receive an annual cash retainer of US$300,000 and 8,000 stock options annually.

The spokeswoman also said that Tesla is actively looking for two additional independent directors.

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