James Murdoch to Be Tesla’s Next Chairman?

October 11, 2018 at 12:15 AM

Tesla Inc. outside board member James Murdoch is the leading candidate to succeed founder Elon Musk as the electric carmaker’s new chairman, sources tell the Financial Times.

Murdoch, 45, is the younger son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch. He currently is CEO of 21st Century Fox and is former chairman and CEO of News Corp. and Sky plc. Murdoch joined the Tesla board 14 months go and has become an enthusiastic supporter of Musk.

But Musk denied the report in a brief tweet yesterday without elaborating, thereby creating new uncertainty about Tesla’s leadership plans.

Musk is required to relinquish his chairman role by mid-November—and submit to board overview of his impulsive tweeting—under terms of an agreement reached with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission less than two weeks ago.

The deal, which faces a federal judge’s approval today, dismisses an SEC lawsuit claiming that Musk misled investors by claiming in August that he had secured funding to take the company private.

Musk has shown little enthusiasm for the agreement. He initially rejected it before being persuaded that fighting the SEC would be damaging to Tesla. Five days later he chided the agency in a sarcastic tweet that declared it was doing a great job as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”