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Tesla says Robyn Denholm of Telstra to be new board chair

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BANGKOK — Tesla said Thursday that its new board chair replacing Elon Musk will be a technology and automotive industry veteran, Robyn Denholm of Australia's Telstra.

The appointment to the full-time position takes effect immediately though Denholm will leave Telstra, Australia's biggest telecoms company, after a six-month notice period, Tesla said.

An Australian, Denholm is Telstra's chief financial officer and head of strategy and already has served on Tesla's board as an independent director. She also has worked at various technology companies including Juniper Networks and Sun Microsystems and held finance management posts at Toyota Motor Corp. in Australia.

“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,” Denholm said in a statement.

Musk agreed to vacate his post as board chairman as part of a settlement with U.S. regulators of a lawsuit alleging he duped investors with misleading statements about a proposed buyout of the company.

The settlement in late September with the Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Musk to remain CEO of Tesla but required him to relinquish his role as chairman for at least three years.

Musk cited Denholm's long experience in the tech and auto industries as strong advantages and said in a statement that he looked forward to working with her.

Apart from appointing a new chairman, Tesla was required to appoint two new independent members to its board. The aim is to provide stronger oversight to match Tesla's growing stature and market value.

The charismatic, visionary Musk has strived to turn Tesla into a profitable, mass-market producer of environmentally-friendly electric cars. But his impulsive streak caused him trouble when he tweeted in August that he had “funding secured” for taking Tesla private.

As part of Musk's settlement with the SEC, Tesla also is supposed to monitor Twitter posts that he makes if they have to do with company news.



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