Robyn Denholm to replace Elon Musk as Tesla chair

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

She will take on the full-time role at Tesla after serving a six-month notice period at the Australian firm.

Image: Robyn Denholm has only been CFO at Telsta for four months.

In the settlement, the SEC pulled back from its demand that Musk, who is synonymous with the Tesla brand, be barred from running Tesla, a sanction that many investors said would be disastrous.

Denholm, 55, has been an independent director of Tesla since 2014 and the head of its audit committee. A spokesperson at the company told CNBC that Denholm will receive 8,000 stock options each year and a cash retainer of $300,000 once she leaves Telstra.

"I believe in this company".

Mr Musk and Tesla each had to pay a $27.5 million penalty under the September deal with the SEC, and he can not return as chair for three years.

There was little reaction to the appointment from the markets Thursday.

Tesla board member James Murdoch, son of billionaire Rupert Murdoch, was touted by the Financial Times as the frontrunner to replace Musk.

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Tesla's board, which includes Musk's brother Kimbal, has long come under fire from corporate governance experts for lacking independence and being comprised of Musk loyalists.

Top proxy advisers Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass, Lewis & Co had each classified Denholm as an "independent" director of Tesla in reports to the carmaker's investors earlier this year.

While her childhood may have been filled with petrol cars, she was fascinated by Tesla before even joining the company's board. She has broad experience in the automotive and digital sectors, having worked at Toyota, Sun Microsystems and Australian telecoms giant Telstra, whom she joined as CFO only weeks ago. Telstra's CEO Andy Penn told the Sydney Morning Herald: "We know that it has become increasingly hard to balance her responsibilities as Telstra CFO with the increased activity of the Tesla board".

But controlling Musk will be a big job for Denholm.

"There might be an element of risk here. So I don't think we can say that, well, she was ineffective as a director, the whole board was ineffective, so she's likely to be ineffective as chair". He is being sued by a British diver he called a "pedo" after the two had a row over how to save a group of children stuck in a Thai cave.

"Politeness costs you absolutely nothing. It doesn't matter whether you are the most senior person in the room, or the most junior", she told the paper.

Tesla shares had been on a roller-coaster ride this year but were on the rise since the company reported a record quarterly profit and beat expectations on vehicle deliveries.

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