Tesla announced on Wednesday that Robyn Denholm, current finance chief at Telstra Corp., has been promoted to chairwoman at the electric vehicle company. The Australian photo.
Robyn Denholm has been an independent director at Tesla since 2014
On Wednesday, Tesla Inc announced one of its directors, Robyn Denholm, has been named as chairwoman of the company. Denholm will replace Elon Musk who was forced out of the position as part of a deal to stave off fraud charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Denholm is currently the finance chief at telecoms company Telstra Corp Ltd and in the past has worked for Toyota. She has also been an independent director at Tesla since 2014 and head of the electric car company’s audit committee.
According to Reuters, the change in management structure at Tesla is supported by many on Wall Street who have grown more concerned that Musk’s erratic behaviour was undermining the progress of the upstart company.
However, there are some who are concerned that Denholm may not be far enough removed from Musk to bring order to the Palo Alto company.
Elazar Capital analyst Chaim Siegel told Reuters “Musk, I believe has a ton to do with the selection and he wants to be sure that they can see eye-to-eye”.
The SEC agreement with Tesla requires the company to appoint an “independent” chair, but offered no definition of what it considers to be so.
Reuters requested a comment from the regulator on Thursday on the appointment of Denholm, but the SEC declined.
Professor of corporate governance at Santa Clara University Stephen Diamond told Reuters that he believes in general, the definition of “independent” is not stringent and he thinks the SEC will not object to Denholm’s appointment.
However, “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,” said Diamond.
Patricia Lenkov, an executive recruiter told Reuters that she does not believe Denholm is the right pick to head Tesla. She says the company needs someone with more experience dealing with strong founders.
“There might be an element of risk here. She’s not a proven entity in this kind of work,” she told the news agency.
CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson told Reuters that Tesla should look to avoid the risk of hiring a genuine outsider who runs the risk of clashing with Musk. “We view the fact that Denholm has prior industry experience with Toyota positively,” said Nelson.
Along with reining in Musk, Denholm must deal with the recent loss of a number of senior executives, including heads of sales, human resources, manufacturing and finance.
Following the announcement, Tesla shares climbed 1.3 per cent to $352.70.