Tesla names new chair to replace Elon Musk

Tesla has announced that Robyn Denholm of Australia's Telstra will become its new board chair.

Denholm has been a Tesla board member since 2014 and has extensive experience in the finance and tech fields. Denholm has been active at Tesla since 2014 but is now working with Australia-based Telstra as its CFO and Head of Strategy and has put in her six-month notice with the company.

Musk will remain as Tesla's chief executive as part of the settlement deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which filed a lawsuit alleging that Musk made misleading statements on Twitter about securing the funding to take Tesla private.

In a suit, the SEC originally asked the court to ban Musk from acting as an officer or director of any publicly traded company.

In addition to agreeing to a three-year ban from serving in the job, Musk and Tesla agreed that the company would add two new independent directors to the board by late December.

Tesla said Denholm, one of the two women on its board, will serve as chair on a full-time basis and will temporarily step down as chair of the company's audit committee until she leaves Telstra.

Top proxy advisers Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass, Lewis & Co had each classified Denholm as an "independent" director of Tesla in reports to the carmaker's investors earlier this year. In the meantime, she'll work closely with Musk.

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Before moving to Telstra, she worked for Silicon Valley firms Sun Microsystems and Juniper Networks as well as consultants Arthur Anderson and Toyota.

Tesla shares were up 1.4 percent in morning trading.

Denholm has been chief financial officer and head of strategy at Telstra, Australia's former telephone monopoly, since the start of October.

Despite the scandals, Tesla made a profit of $312m in the third quarter, well ahead of Wall Street forecasts, with revenues of $6.8bn.

But his impulsive streak caused him trouble when he tweeted in August that he had "funding secured" for taking Tesla private. The aim is to provide stronger oversight to match Tesla's growing stature and market value. Musk tweeted his support for the decision.

A union-affiliated investor group and officials representing major pension funds in four states have called on Tesla to go beyond the terms of the SEC settlement to fix its corporate governance issues.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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