Economy

Telstra executive Robyn Denholm quits to be Tesla chairman

Telstra executive Robyn Denholm quits to be Tesla chairman

She will temporarily step down as Chair of Tesla's Audit Committee until she leaves Telstra, the company said.

The appointment of Denholm caps months of turbulence for Tesla amid investor demands for stronger oversight.

However, Telstra said in a financial filing of its own [pdf] that while the Tesla role would begin on November 13, Denholm would have to continue in the CFO and head of strategy role at the telco until May 6, 2019.

Mr Musk agreed to give up the chairmanship last month to resolve claims of fraud brought by USA financial regulators.

Tesla has endured a hard few months, following comments on social media in early August made by the firm's founder, Elon Musk, suggesting he had "funding secured" for a deal to take Tesla private.

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

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 chairperson for at least three years. She was appointed as Telstra's CFO in July. The mid-priced Tesla Model 3 was the fifth bestselling passenger auto in America, according to the industry analyst Edmunds.

Musk said in August he was considering taking Tesla private in a $420 a share and that he had secured funding for a deal that was later scuttled but attracted scrutiny from several government agencies.

Denholm will leave the Australian telco following a six-month notice period, during which her predecessor Elon Musk will provide her support to "ensure a smooth transition", according to the statement.

Denholm has been on the Tesla board as an independent director since 2014 and has had senior roles at other Silicon Valley technology companies including Juniper Networks, where she was chief financial officer, and Sun Microsystems, as well as Japanese carmaker Toyota.