Tuesday , 20 August 2019
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Tesla appoints female Australian telecoms executive Robyn Denholm to replace Elon Musk as chairman

Tesla appoints female Australian telecoms executive Robyn Denholm to replace Elon Musk as chairman

© AP

Tesla has appointed Robyn Denholm as chairman, replacing Elon Musk after his controversial behavior forced him to step aside.

Musk sparked an SECC investigation into Telsa by claiming on Twitter he had secured funding to take the company private from the Saudi sovereign investment fund. 

The SpaceX founder also smoked marijuana live on an internet podcast.

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The appointment comes more than a month after the billionaire had to step down as the electric-car maker’s chairman as part of a settlement with U.S. regulators. 

Ms Denholm is currently Chief Financial Officer at Australian biggest telecoms company, Telstra, and already sits on the board of Telsa as an independent director. 

She has been a member of the board at Tesla since 2014 and will have the task of overseeing Musk who remains as CEO. 

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
Robyn Denholm (pictured) will have the task of overseeing Musk who remains as CEO after she was announced as the new chair today

Tesla had until next Tuesday to name an independent board chairman under the settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which said Musk’s tweets about taking the company private were fraudulent and that the billionaire could retain his role as CEO but should quit as chair for at least three years. 

As part of Musk’s settlement with the SEC, Tesla also has to monitor his Twitter posts if they relate to the firm.

The appointment of Denholm follows months of turbulence for the company and its stock as 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.

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
SpaceX founder and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk stepped down as chairman of the board when he claimed he secured funding to take the company private

Ms Denholm, who has also has worked at various technology companies including Juniper Networks, Sun Microsystems and Toyota Motor Corp in Australia, said in a statement: ‘I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value.’

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

Musk said: ‘Robyn has extensive experience in both the tech and auto industries, and she has made significant contributions as a Tesla Board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company. 

‘I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.’ 

Twenty-First Century Fox Chief Executive, James Murdoch, who also sits on the Tesla board, was tipped to succeed Musk before today’s announcement was made. 

A Tesla spokeswoman said that Denholm will receive an annual cash retainer of $300,000 ( £229,000) and 8,000 stock options annually.

The spokeswoman added that Tesla was actively looking for two additional independent directors.

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
Musk called a British diver ‘a pedo guy’ after he called his called his mini-submarine a ‘PR stunt’

Last month Tesla and Musk were both fined $20 million (£15, 250 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.

The tweets sent shares in Tesla soaring to a high of $387.46 (£296,00) a share on August 7.

But Tesla’s stock had tumbled by more than 25 per cent before recovering the $7billion (£5.4billion) loss the SEC lawsuit incurred. 

Shares began to rise after the car-maker reported its largest quarterly profit in the company’s history and closed at $348.16 a share yesterday. 

© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
Elon Musk pictured smoking marijuana offered by the Joe Rogan Experience podcast host, causing shares in his company to fall

Musk then raised eyebrows last month when he appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast and smoked weed on air.

The tech whiz Musk is also facing legal action from British diver Vernon Unsworth, who helped to rescue a football team of Thai boys when they became trapped in a cave, by falsely accusing him on Twitter of being a pedophile. 

South African-born Musk called Unsworth ‘a pedo guy’ after he criticized him in a television interview about the dramatic rescue and called his called Musk’s mini-submarine a ‘PR stunt’.

Musk and SpaceX engineers built a small child-sized submarine and shipped it to Thailand to help with the rescue but the device was not used. 

Watch: Tesla director Denholm to replace Musk as board chair (Reuters)

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