Tesla names Robyn Denholm as new chairwoman to replace Elon Musk

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Tesla has named a new chair to replace Elon Musk, after the CEO agreed to step down from the company's board as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The electric vehicle maker has announced that Robyn Denholm, who has been an independent director at the business since 2014, will step up to become chairman with immediate effect.

"I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value", Ms Denholm said.

The 55-year-old Australian will temporarily step down as chair of Tesla's audit committee until she quits Telstra. In it, Musk said he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share - and had funding secured.

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Critics of Tesla's board have said members lack independence and are too closely allied with Musk, many through financial deals.

It said Musk's tweets about taking the company private were fraudulent and that the billionaire should quit as chairman but could retain his role as CEO.

Denholm is one of the two female directors on Tesla's nine-member board since 2014. Musk and Tesla settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in September after the USA agency sued for fraud. "Great respect. Very much look forward to working together", Musk tweeted early on Thursday. Besides Telstra, her previous experience includes Juniper Network, Sun Microsystems and Toyota.

Tesla's board, which includes Musk's brother Kimbal, has long come under fire from corporate governance experts for lacking independence and being comprised of Musk loyalists.

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The settlement with the securities watchdog required Musk and Tesla to each pay $20 million in fines (€17.5 million).

Days after settling with the SEC over the now famous tweet, Musk turned around and mocked the agency, in another tweet.

The new chairman isn't likely to influence Musk's behavior, said Frank Schwope, an analyst with NordLB in Germany.

He also taken aim at short-sellers, or investors who borrowed shares of Tesla and immediately sold them with the hope that Tesla's share price would fall, a number of times.

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