Tesla has named board member Robyn Denholm as the new chair of its board after Elon Musk was forced to step down as the company’s chairman as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Robyn will assume as Tesla new chairman immediately, according to the company’s statement. The position will be part-time for now until Robyn, who is currently serving as Telstra strategy head and chief financial officer, leaves the role, after her six months notice period.
The 55-year-old Australian, also one of the two female directors on Tesla board, will be stepping down temporarily as chair of Tesla’s audit committee until she leaves the Australian Telecom giant Telstra. She has since 2017 been serving as Telstra chief operations officer and last month took over as Telstra CFO.
The new development at Tesla was engineered by Musk’s August 7 tweet that stated he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 per share and falsely alleged to have “funding secured.” The SEC sued him later in September, accusing him of manipulating the market and misleading Tesla investors.
Musk reached a settlement with the commission few days after the lawsuit, agreeing to a personal fine of $20 million, different from a $20 million fine imposed on Tesla and to resign as the company’s chair. The court also banned Musk from acting as director or officer of any publicly traded company for another three years, the same period he’s barred from being Tesla chair.
Last month, Musk announced he had deleted his titles and have become “Nothing of Tesla,” but later said he would remain Tesla president. A spokeswoman disclosed that Elon Musk remained Tesla CEO but updates on the company’s website had warranted a removal of the titles.
Tesla is doing well despite the distractions. The company surpassed Wall Street forecasts and made a profit of $312m in the third quarter, with $6.8 billion in revenue. Reports from industry analysts Edmunds ranks Tesla’s mid-priced Model 3 fifth on the list of bestselling passenger cars in America.
The new Tesla chairman Robyn Denholm has since 2014 been on the Tesla board as an independent director and has held senior positions in other tech companies in Silicon Valley. After her earlier career at Japanese automaker Toyota and Arthur Anderson in Sidney, she had moved to the US in 2001, before taking the senior roles at Telstra.
“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.” Musk said. “I look forward to working even more closely with Robyn as we continue accelerating the advent of sustainable energy.”
“I believe in this company [Tesla], I believe in its mission,” said Denholm “I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value.”
Tesla’s Model 3 production figures is currently being investigated by US federal security agency to find out if the company had misled investors about the vehicle’s production figures.