US based Electric car manufacturer Tesla Inc on Thursday named an Australian telecoms executive to chair its board of directors, after the controversial Elon Musk was forced by US authorities to step back from the role. The appointment of Robyn Denholm, chief financial officer with Telstra and already a Tesla board member is effective immediately but she will serve out her six-month notice period with the Australian company, Tesla said in a statement. Musk had to resign as Tesla chairman under a September arrangement with US regulators to settle fraud charges stemming from a tweet in which he said he planned to take the firm private and had financing to do it.
Under that settlement he and Tesla each had to pay a $20 million fine, but Musk was allowed to stay on as chief executive. He will help ease the 55-year-old Denholm’s transition, Tesla said. “To ensure a smooth transition during the remainder of Robyn’s time at Telstra, Elon will be a resource to Robyn and provide any support that she requests in her role as chair,” the electric car maker said.
Musk praised Denholm’s input in her time on Tesla’s board. “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,” he said in the Tesla statement. “I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy,” Musk added. Denholm said: “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.”
A Tesla spokeswoman said that Denholm will receive an annual cash retainer of $300,000 and 8,000 stock options annually. The spokeswoman also said Tesla was actively looking for two additional independent directors.