Elon Musk is planning a shakeup to Tesla’s management. The CEO claimed on Tuesday that he would scrap the title of chairman of the board in three years’ time, a position he relinquished last month as part of a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk also criticized an edited interview, which suggested he retained the same level of control as before he gave up the role.
The dispute stems from Musk’s tweet in August claiming he would take Tesla private at $420 per share, with the “funding secured.” The commission described this as “false and misleading,” and after a debate between the two Musk agreed to a $20 million fine along with Tesla, and Musk agreed to step down as chairman within 45 days. On November 8, Tesla announced that Robyn Denholm would take over as chairman, a board member that previously worked in Australia’s largest telecoms firm Telstra. However, Musk seemed to suggest in a Sunday interview that Denholm’s appointment was irrelevant to his control of the company.
In the interview, Musk responded to a question about Denholm having control over him that “it’s not realistic in the sense that I am the largest shareholder in the company.” A transcript obtained by Electrek revealed that the interview cut Musk continuing with “…and a very high percentage of the shareholders support me and the company.” A follow-up sentence where Musk claimed “I can just call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want” was also cut, with Musk continuing to say “…provided I could get support of at least a 1/3 of the other shareholders, which is likely. At the end of the day the shareholders control the company.”
It’s not the first time Musk has suggested such a radical shakeup. In October he claimed he’d deleted all his titles to become the “nothing” of Tesla, suggesting the titles were meaningless in terms of actual company control. In the Sunday interview, Musk dismissed the commission by stating “I do not respect the SEC,” a quote the full transcript reveals was not altered.
Denholm is set to serve out the remainder of her six-month notice period with Telstra before taking over fully as chairman. Based on Musk’s comments, she could be the last person to hold the position.
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