Tesla names Telstra executive as new chairwoman

09 November, 2018, 04:48 | Author: Dave Hampton
  • A Tesla Inc. Model S electric vehicle is displayed at the company's showroom in Newport Beach California U.S. on Friday

Denholm, who has been a Tesla board member for almost five years, was named to the post late Wednesday, replacing Elon Musk as part of a securities fraud settlement with United States government regulators.

Telstra said she would be leaving her CFO role in the coming months.

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

Before Telstra, she worked in Silicon Valley as chief financial officer at Juniper Networks and head of corporate strategic planning at Sun Microsystems.

A statement from Ms Denholm said she believed in Tesla and looked forward "to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value".

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Frank Schwope, an analyst with NordLB in Germany, commented on the appointment of Denholm saying: "She's from Musk's inner circle and is unlikely to put obstacles in the way of decisions". She's one of two women on Tesla's nine-person board.

Telstra's CFO and head of strategy Robyn Denholm will leave the telco to replace Elon Musk as full-time chair of electric carmaker Tesla.

This announcement counters the rumors reported earlier by The New York Times and The Financial Times that Tesla non-executive director and Murdoch media-empire scion James Murdoch was the lead candidate for the chairman role.

The SEC accused him of manipulating the market and sued him in late September for making "false and misleading" statements to investors. And as a result, a ideal place for someone like CEO Elon Musk to lurk behind the shadows. "She has made significant contributions as a Tesla board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company", Musk said in a company statement.

The news comes just weeks after Tesla posted net profit of $312 million for the third quarter, by far its largest ever.

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While Tesla is finally starting to make good on Musk's promises on production of the Model 3 sedan, seen as crucial to the company's future, it has lost senior executives for sales, human resources, manufacturing and finance in recent months.

He and the company were fined by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after tweets sent by Musk about plans to take Tesla private were deemed to be fraudulent.

Directors will create a permanent committee to ensure implementation of the terms of the SEC settlement, which include setting up procedures and controls to oversee Musk's communications - including his tweets.

The settlement requires Tesla to install an independent chairman, among other penalties. Even after the settlement was announced, Musk taunted the SEC, calling it the "Shortseller Enrichment Commission" before snidely praising it for "doing incredible work".

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