Monday, 10 December, 2018

Rupert Murdoch's son James reportedly top contender for Tesla chairman

Elon Musk speaks at a press conferences Modal Trigger Elon Musk AP
Priscilla Morrison | 11 October, 2018, 21:31

Mr Musk was forced from his post as part of a settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged securities fraud, where he claimed he had "funding secured" for a takeover of the electric auto maker. The company also accepted a $20 million fine, despite not being charged with fraud.

The younger Murdoch has no experience when it comes to manufacturing and has yet to lead a company that makes any type of vehicle.

As part of the settlement, Tesla must appoint two more independent directors to its board and implement procedures to oversee Musk's online communications - including his Twitter account.

In a vote of confidence for Musk, shareholder T. Rowe Price Group Inc said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that it had raised its stake by almost half to 10.2 per cent at the end of September from just under 7 per cent in June.

James Murdoch had been chairman of Sky since April 2016, having previously served as chief executive from 2003 to 2007 and in a previous spell as chairman from 2007 to 2012.

Its shares have struggled amid the recent controversy, trading around $259.52 at the time of writing, around a 27% fall since Musk tweeted his intention to take the firm private at $420 a share.

More news: Impressive Novak Djokovic gets revenge to make Shanghai quarters

Glass Lewis research director Courteney Keatinge said on Wednesday that while Murdoch's departure from Sky could alleviate some concerns, the Tesla chairmanship would still require a big time commitment as the company faces pressures on many fronts. One of the FT's sources said external candidates were still being considered. "It's a very insular board", said Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of Ctw Investment Group, which works with union pension funds.

James Murdoch is now chief executive of 21st Century Fox, but will leave the role when the entertainment giant completes the sale of the majority of its assets to Disney, and will be succeeded by his brother Lachlan.

Tesla is under scrutiny for failing to produce its Model 3 sedan quickly enough and in sufficient volume to meet customer demand.

James Murdoch and Kathryn Hufschmid.

The SEC's 45-day deadline will lapse in the middle of November, but the regulatory body has stated that it's willing to extend that under certain circumstances if Musk files a request to do so.

With US stock markets broadly lower, Tesla shares closed down 2.3 percent at $256.88. That risked jeopardizing the hard-fought deal, which also requires Tesla to add two new independent directors.

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