Telstra executive Robyn Denholm quits to be Tesla chairman

Mae Love
November 8, 2018

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

The settlement required Tesla and Musk to pay a fine of $20 million each and for Musk to give up his chairman role for three years.

Tesla announced that Elon Musk's replacement as its chair will be Robyn Denholm, now chief financial officer at Australian telecommunications operator Telstra.

The move scotches reports that James Murdoch might have been appointed to the job.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission had charged Musk with securities fraud, alleging that he misled investors when he tweeted on August 7 that he had "funding secured" to privatize the electric automaker at $420 a share, a substantial premium over its share price at the time.

Tesla has endured a hard few months, following comments Mr Musk made on social media in early August suggesting he had "funding secured" for a deal to take Tesla private.

That alluded to shortsellers, investors who have bet that Tesla shares will fall and who are frequently the subject of Musk´s derision.

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Tesla has seen months of turbulence since Musk's infamous tweet. In media interviews he said he often slept on a sofa in the Tesla office and more recently in an online video he briefly smoked marijuana.

She has been on the Tesla board as an independent director since 2014 and previously worked at Juniper Networks, Sun Microsystems and Toyota.

Tesla, which has never reported an annual profit, also came under strain over production schedules for its Model 3 electric auto, its newest vehicle aimed at a wider market.

She will also be leaving her role as CFO and Head of Strategy at Telstra.

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The appointment of Denholm, who is Telstra's chief financial officer, is effective immediately but she will serve out her six-month notice period with her current employer, Tesla said in a statement late Wednesday.

"I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value", she said in the statement.

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