Tesla names Robyn Denholm as chair to replace Elon Musk

A Tesla Inc. Model S electric vehicle is displayed at the company's showroom in Newport Beach California U.S. on Friday

Last month Tesla and Musk were both fined $20 million over the tweets in which he claimed he was taking the company private at $420 a share, which the SEC alleges was a number chosen as a joke with his singer girlfriend, Grimes, who introduced him to marijuana.

Denholm is now chief financial officer at Australian telecoms operator Telstra Corp Ltd and has been an independent director on Tesla's nine-member board since 2014.

The announcement scotches reports that James Murdoch was the frontrunner for the job.

Musk resigned as Tesla chairman in October under an arrangement with U.S. regulators to settle fraud charges stemming from a tweet in which he said he planned to take the company private and had financing to do it. Mr Musk was also obliged to relinquish his role as chairman for three years.

Its shares soared following his comments but weeks later Mr Musk backed away from the plan, blaming feedback from shareholders.

Investors had also called for stronger oversight of Mr Musk after his erratic behaviour attracted attention.

Mr Musk, Tesla's controversial co-founder, resigned as head of its board in September.

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Tesla is searching for two more independent directors. However, the carmaker made what Mr Musk called an "historic" profit in the most recent quarter.

Her appointment is effective immediately.

A Tesla spokesman said Ms Denholm would receive an annual cash retainer of $300,000, with $8000 in stock options annually.

She will also be leaving her role as CFO and Head of Strategy at Telstra, Australia's largest telecommunications company, after a six-month notice period there, to focus on her work as Tesla chair full-time, the company said in a statement.

"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", the statement from the electric car-maker said.

Before moving to Telstra, she worked for Silicon Valley firms Sun Microsystems and Juniper Networks as well as consultants Arthur Anderson and Toyota.

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