James Murdoch could take chairman role at Tesla

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'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet

James Murdoch, son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is the leading candidate to take over the chairman role at Tesla, the Financial Times reported Wednesday, citing two people familiar with the matter.

However, Elon Musk, current CEO and chairman at Tesla, hit Twitter shortly after the report was published with the statement, “This is incorrect.”

Musk agreed to give up the chairman role last month in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over a lawsuit filed against him for his infamous “funding secured” tweet made in early August in regards to taking Tesla private, which turned out to be false.

Musk and Tesla were also fined $20 million each as part of the deal and have until mid-November to find a new chairman.

Murdoch is currently a non-executive director on Tesla's board. He's also CEO of 21st Century Fox but will step down from the role soon as the company is transferred to rival media company Walt Disney Company as part of a sale agreement made in July. He also stepped down as chairman of the Sky media company following its recent sale to Comcast.

Another source told the Financial Times that finding someone from outside Tesla was also an option.

Musk is thought to favor Antonio Gracias, who is an independent director at Tesla and a key investor. However, Gracias may not be sufficiently independent as he is invested in other companies linked with Musk, including SpaceX.

The kerfuffle doesn't appear to have had any negative effect on people buying Teslas. The company said it sold 55,843 Model 3s in the third quarter along with 14,470 Model Ses and 13,190 Model Xes, which combined is higher than the sales of some established brands, regardless of powertrain.

 
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