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Home / Business / FT says James Murdoch in line for Tesla chair. Musk reply: incorrect

FT says James Murdoch in line for Tesla chair. Musk reply: incorrect

SAN FRANCISCO / BOSTON (Reuters) – Elon Musk responded with a tweet saying, "This is not correct," after the Financial Times reported that James Murdoch, the outgoing head of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, was the Principal candidate to replace him as Tesla President of Inc.

James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of News Corp, attends the Media Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, on July 1

2, 2012. REUTERS / Jim Urquhart

Tesla until November 13 to appoint an independent chairman of the board of directors, part of the settlements reached last month between Tesla, Musk and the US regulators after that, in August, Musk had tweeted to have obtained funding to bring the car manufacturer private electricity.

The SEC's agreement has stalled months of debate and some investors demand a stronger supervision of Musk, whose recent uneven public behavior has raised concerns about his ability to lead the company losing money through a phase of growth .

The US Securities and Exchange Commission, which stated that Musk's Twitter statements on how to go in private were fraudulent, allowed the billionaire to retain his role as CEO while requiring the abandonment of the his presidency.

Musk had said that he was considering the idea of ​​taking Tesla privately for $ 420 per share, a number that is slang for marijuana. He tweeted the denial of three words in the Financial Times story, Wednesday at 4:20 pm PT (2320 GMT), about six hours after the publication of the newspaper.

In a vote of confidence for Musk, the shareholder T. Rowe Price Group Inc said in a Wednesday settlement request that it had increased its stake to 10.2 percent at the end of September by just under 7 percent in June.

The Financial Times quoted two people informed about discussions that said that Murdoch was the principal candidate for the job.

Murdoch, formerly an independent director of Tesla, reported that he wants work, the report says.

Son of the mogul Fox Rupert Murdoch, he joined Tesla's board last year after years of working with media companies. He has no experience in production and has never led a company that makes cars or electric vehicles.

Murdoch could not be reached immediately for comment. Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. Twenty-First Century Fox declined to comment.


Moss is Tesla's public face, and every president should come to terms with his powerful personality. Thanks to its vision and audacious showmanship, Tesla's valuation has sometimes eclipsed that of traditional US automakers with billions of turnover and the company has raised legions of fans, despite repeated production problems.

"The question about James Murdoch is," Is he the guy who will be able to establish that level of authority with Elon Musk? ", Asked Abby Adlerman, CEO of Boardspan, a company consulting for corporate governance.

Murdoch, who at 45 is a nearly 47-year-old contemporary, Musk, recently sailed a acquisition battle between Fox and Comcast Corp to purchase the European pay-TV company Sky, which also presided.

His record in ensuring that Sky's independent shareholders were represented around the world was exemplary, media analyst Alice Enders said.

"His experience is very recent and very relevant," he said.

Investors' concerns that Tesla's advice was too closely linked to Musk led to the addition of two independent directors, including Murdoch, in July 2017.

At the start of this quest The year, they led US proxy attorneys Glass Lewis & Co and Astitutional Shareholder Services and the investment advisor affiliated to the CtW Investment Group, had advised investors to cast votes "against" the re-election of Murdoch as director of Tesla at the company's annual meeting held on 5 June.

While CtW cites a lack of relevant experience and a "troubled history as a manager and director," both prosecutors have warned that Murdoch had already worked on too many tables.

Murdoch currently serves on the board of Twenty-First Century Fox and News Corp. Tuesday dropped from Sky Plc following completion of the acquisition of the issuer by Comcast Corp.

He was appointed CEO of Sky, founded by his father in 2003, becoming the youngest CEO of an FTSE 100 company.

"Under his leadership, Sky followed the path of technology," said Enders. "It was not by chance that he oversaw that strategy, which was very different from the strategy followed by other pay-TV companies, and in my opinion it was his most valuable contribution."

Murdoch replaced his father as Sky's president in 2007, but was forced out in 2012 after being involved in the British mobile phone scandal.

PHOTO FILE: James Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and his wife Kathryn Hufschmid arrive for a reception to celebrate the marriage between Rupert Murdoch and the former supermodel Jerry Hall which was held on Friday in London , in Great Britain on March 5, 2016. REUTERS / Neil Hall / Photo of the file

He returned to Sky's board in 2016 after rebuilding his career at Fox.

Glass Lewis Research director Courteney Keatinge said today that while Murdoch's departure from Sky could alleviate some concerns, Tesla's presidency would still require a major time commitment as the company faces pressure on many fronts.

"I would still have reservations about the time it would be able to assign to this," Keatinge said.

According to the FT report, external options were still considered.

Considering a broad selection of candidates was important, said Dieter Waizenegger, executive director of CtW Investment Group, because "investors should really be cautious about the advice that makes the choice easy here," opting for Murdoch.

Murdoch will succeed his brother Lachlan Murdoch as CEO of Twenty First Century Fox, after the media group has completed the mass sale of its assets to Walt Disney.


Tesla faces a crucial moment as she struggles to produce her Model 3 sedan in large quantities and quickly deliver it to customers in an ongoing crunch that has involved some analysts. Musk promised that the loss-making company will be profitable and positive for cash flow in its third and fourth quarter.

Concerns over manufacturing delays and manufacturing challenges have been exacerbated by a series of damaging actions, including Musk insulting analysts in a conference call, calling a rescuer of the British cave a pedophile and joking about April 1 that Tesla was going bankrupt.

The shares have decreased by 20 percent since the beginning of the year.

"Elon Musk is building a great company but it has been nothing short of irregular when it comes to thinking of its investors," said Chaim Siegel, an analyst at Elazar Advisors. "The company needs more stability at the top to regain investor confidence."

Under the terms of the SEC agreement, Musk is not allowed to be re-elected for president for three years. Tesla is also required to appoint two new independent advisers to its board.

Report by Sonam Rai, Munsif Vengattil and Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru, Ross Kerber in Boston and Alexandria Sage in San Francisco and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Peter Henderson, Matthew Lewis, Diane Craft and Keith Weir

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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