Tesla adds James Murdoch to board after investors ramp up pressure

Paterniano Del Favero
Luglio 18, 2017

The California electric vehicle maker said Ebony Media CEO Linda Johnson Rice and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch were named directors, bringing the size of its board to nine members.

Earlier this year, five investment groups, representing a number of investors, sent a letter to Tesla calling for a shake-up of the board amid criticism chief executive Elon Musk had ties to too numerous directors.

"Directors should be held to a higher standard of independence given the conflicts of interest that permeate this board".

The board consists of Musk's brother Kimbal Musk, former SolarCity CFO Brad Buss, SpaceX investor Ira Ehrenpreis, SpaceX board member, Draper Fisher Jurvetson partner Steve Jurvetson, another SpaceX board member Antonio Gracias, and COO of telecom company Tesltra Robyn Denholm.

Linda Johnson Rice is also CEO of Ebony Media Operations, and retains an emeritus chairman role at Ebony Media Holdings, the company which oversees both the EBONY and Jet brands, meaning both the new independent directors have media industry experience. A group of powerful investors in the company, including the California State Teachers' Retirement System, issued a letter to the company in April asking for the addition of two new independent members without direct ties to Musk.

Earlier this year, some CT pension funds called for annual elections of board members. James Murdoch, who also serves on the board of News Corp and is the chairman of Sky PLC, replaced his father as CEO of Fox in 2015.

Other shareholders have pushed for additional changes to Tesla's board.

Enthusiasm for the Model 3 has sent shares soaring more than 50% this year, though the stock has fallen in the past few weeks - including 2.5% on Monday - following disappointing second-quarter sales figures.

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