Denholm to replace Musk as board chair

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Tesla chose one of its independent directors, Robyn Denholm, to take over from Elon Musk as the company's chairman. Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tesla Inc said Robyn Denholm will replace Elon Musk as chair of the electric-car maker’s board, more than a month after the billionaire had to step down from the role as part of a settlement with US regulators.

The appointment of Ms Denholm, one of the two women on the carmaker’s nine-member board, caps months of turbulence for the company and its stock as investors called for stronger oversight of Mr Musk, whose erratic public behaviour raised concerns about his ability to steer the company through a rocky phase of growth.

The company had until Nov 13 to name an independent board chairman under its agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which followed an investigation into Mr Musk’s tweets that he had “funding secured” for a deal, later scuttled, to take Tesla private.

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Mr Musk, who has been on Tesla’s board since 2004, quit as chairman but retained his role as CEO. His tweets attracted scrutiny from several other government agencies as well.

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

She takes over as Tesla’s chair immediately and will be tasked with overseeing the company as it ramps up production of its Model 3 sedans, seen crucial for the carmaker’s sustained profitability.

Ms Denholm will 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 named as Telstra’s CFO in July.

Tesla said Ms Denholm, 55, 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.

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