James Murdoch in line to replace Musk as Tesla chairman: FT

(Reuters) – Outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) Chief Executive James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace Elon Musk as Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) chairman, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing two people briefed on the discussions.

News Corp Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 12, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Tesla and Musk reached a settlement with U.S. Securities and Exchange regulators last month in which they agreed to pay $20 million each to financial regulators and that the billionaire would step down as chairman but remain as CEO.

Murdoch, who is a non-executive director of Tesla, had signaled he wants the job, the report said.

The son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch, he joined Tesla’s board last year after years of work with media companies. He has never led a company which makes cars or electric vehicles.

In May, proxy advisers Glass Lewis & Co and Institutional Shareholder Services and activist investor CtW Investment opposed the re-election of Murdoch to Tesla’s board.

While the latter cited a lack of relevant experience and a “troubled history as an executive and director”, Glass Lewis warned that Murdoch already served on too many boards.

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

Murdoch is set to be succeeded by his brother Lachlan Murdoch as Twenty First Century Fox chief executive officer, after the media group completes the sale of bulk of its assets to Walt Disney (DIS.N).

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

Musk has 45 days to step down as chairman of Tesla under the SEC settlement and is not permitted to be re-elected to the post for three years. Tesla is also required to appoint two new independent directors to its board.

With U.S. stock markets broadly lower, shares of Tesla pared losses to trade down 1.6 percent at $258.50.

Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham and Shailesh Kuber

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