Telstra CFO hangs up, plugs in as new Tesla chair


Robyn Denholm, one of the two independent directors appointed to Tesla's board in 2014 will be its new chairwoman, the company announced on Wednesday night.

Tesla has plumped for an inside appointment to succeed Elon Musk as its next board chair.

While she will resign from Telstra to take the role full-time, some analysts expressed concern that she may not be far enough removed from Musk to rein in the billionaire's public outbursts and bring more order to Tesla.

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Pressure mounted after a series of spats (often on Twitter), culminating in his post claiming he had secured funding to buy out investors at $420 a share to take Tesla private.

The appointment marks the end of an era for Musk, 47, who became chairman when he led a US$7.5 million initial investment in Tesla in April 2004.

The settlement required Tesla and Musk to pay a fine of $20 million each and for Musk to give up his chairman role for three years.

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"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".

"She has made significant contributions as a Tesla board member over the past four years in helping us become a profitable company", Musk said in a company statement. "Great respect. Very much look forward to working together", Musk tweeted early on Thursday. Elon Musk will remain as CEO. She also has worked at various technology companies including Juniper Networks and Sun Microsystems and held finance management posts at Toyota Motor Australia.

"But it does violate the spirit of the settlement, which was to change the culture of the board so there was a check on Musk's worst instincts", he added. "We know that it has become increasingly hard to balance her responsibilities as Telstra CFO with the increased activity of the Tesla board". Tesla shares rose slightly to $349.34 in premarket trading. Denholm has been working with Telstra for two years, during which she has received borne media scrutiny about her ability to manage her time between the Australian and North American company. The mid-priced Tesla Model 3 was the fifth bestselling passenger vehicle in America, according to the industry analyst Edmunds.

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