Tesla names Robyn Denholm as Chairman to replace Elon Musk

A Tesla Inc. Model S electric vehicle is displayed at the company's showroom in Newport Beach California U.S. on Friday

Ms Denholm, who has been a Tesla board member for almost five years, was named as Elon Musk's replacement as part of a securities fraud settlement with United States government regulators.

Denholm will step down from Telstra after a six-month notice period.

"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", said Mr Musk.

Jumping over to Sun Microsystems, Denholm shifted from a director's role in Australia to various senior finance positions in Silicon Valley.

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".

Apart from appointing a new chairman, Tesla was required to appoint two new independent members to its board. A spokesperson at the company told CNBC that Denholm will receive 8,000 stock options each year and a cash retainer of $300,000 once she leaves Telstra. Telstra is the largest telecommunications company in Australia. Musk and Tesla each had to pay a US$20m penalty under the September deal with the SEC, and he can not return as chairman for three years.

Email messages sent to Denholm Thursday were not immediately returned.

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U.S. authorities sued the entrepreneur for misleading investors and he and Tesla were each fined $20m.

Tesla earned a US$311.5 million net profit during the third-quarter.

Speculation on who would replace Musk as Tesla's chair had centered around James Murdoch, the company's other independent director and CEO of the Fox network, founded by his father Rupert Murdoch. And the SEC is still a factor - Tesla received a subpoena last week from the SEC concerning Model 3 production forecasts in 2017, according to The Verge.

The appointment of Denholm caps months of turbulence for Tesla amid investor demands for stronger oversight.

"I think this is the best possible outcome for everyone involved", said Ivan Feinseth of Tigress Financial Partners, who rates Tesla "neutral", who added the SEC's penalty was only a slap on the wrist for Musk. Musk had Musk later backtracked on the tweet, but the damage was done.

Musk resigned as part of a settlement deal with the SEC, who busted old mate for a bung tweet about taking the company private, which broke a bunch of rules.

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