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Robyn Denholm Replaces Elon Musk As Tesla's Board Chair

Nov 8, 2018
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A corporation typically has a CEO who runs it and a chair of the board who oversees the CEO. At Tesla, Elon Musk was both chair and CEO. Now the Securities and Exchange Commission has forced him to give up the chairmanship. Robyn Denholm oversees him. Here's NPR's Emily Sullivan on what that means for the electric car company.

EMILY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: To refresh your memory, it all started with a tweet. In early August, Musk tweeted he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share and had funding secured. The Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of manipulating the market and sued him in late September for making false and misleading statements to investors. Here's Stephanie Avakian of the SEC during a news conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

STEPHANIE AVAKIAN: The market reacted to this information, and Tesla's stock price quickly traded up. We allege that he had not even discussed key deal terms including price with any potential source of funding.

SULLIVAN: In the settlement, Musk agreed to fines totaling $40 million and a resignation as chair. He's barred from being chair for another three years but will remain CEO. Denholm, Musk's successor, has served on Tesla's board since 2014. She's currently chief financial officer and head of strategy at Telstra, an Australian telecommunications company. Tesla says Denholm will leave Telstra after her six-month notice period with the company is complete. In the meantime, she'll work closely with Musk. Tesla's seen months of turbulence since Musk's infamous tweet. Its stock has fluctuated, and many investors have called for more oversight over the CEO, who's gotten lots of attention for his unconventional ways. Here he is in early September on the podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience" talking about his creative process.

(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE")

ELON MUSK: It's like a never-ending explosion.

SULLIVAN: Last month, Tesla delivered its largest ever quarterly profit. Emily Sullivan, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.