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Australian Robyn Denholm announced as Tesla’s new chair

This article originally appeared on Manufacturers’ Monthly.

Electric car company, Tesla, has announced an Australian executive, Robyn Denholm, as its new chair, replacing Elon Musk.

Denholm has been a board member at Tesla since 2014 and currently serves as the CFO and head of strategy of Telstra. Musk will remain Tesla’s chief executive.

Tesla made the announcement on Wednesday night, adding that Denholm will temporarily step down as chair of Tesla’s audit committee until she leaves Telstra. She is expected to devote her full attention to the Tesla chair role once her six-month notice period with Telstra is complete.

Manufacturers’ Monthly was informed by a Tesla spokesperson that once Denholm leaves Telstra, she will be receiving an annual cash retainer of US$300,000 ($412,000), and will receive 8,000 stock options each year.

“This is in line with Tesla’s belief that Board compensation should align closely with shareholder value creation. Denholm will not see value in her stock options unless all shareholders see value,” the spokesperson said.

Denholm has an extensive background in technology. Before her current position at Telstra, Denholm was an executive at Juniper Networks, which makes computer networking equipment, for about a decade.

Denholm also has experience in the auto industry. She spent seven years at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia, where she was national manager for finance, before leaving in 1996 for Sun Microsystems, a onetime Silicon Valley powerhouse later acquired by Oracle.

“I believe in this company, I believe in its mission and I look forward to helping Elon and the Tesla team achieve sustainable profitability and drive long-term shareholder value,” she said in the statement.

The decision by Tesla to replace Musk as chairman was part of a settlement reached with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in September to deal with the fallout from his Twitter post in August that he had secured funding for a private buyout of the company.

As per its agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla had 45 days to replace CEO Elon Musk as chair, a deadline it met by about a week. It also has 90 days from the September 29 settlement – December 28 – to add two more independent directors.

The Tesla board actively continues its search for two additional independent directors, Tesla spokesperson informed Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“In 2018, only four per cent of the board chairs for the US’s top 3,000 publicly traded companies were women. Tesla is proud to be among those boards with Robyn stepping into the Chair role,” the spokesperson commented.

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