Elon Musk hits back: James Murdoch is not the lead candidate for Tesla chairman spot

tesla elon musk james murdoch

It’s 4:20 p.m., which means Tesla CEO Elon Musk might be tweeting.

This time, the billionaire entrepreneur’s tweet debunked a Financial Times article from Wednesday that reported Twenty-First Century Fox CEO and Tesla board member James Murdoch was the lead candidate to take Musk’s chairman spot. Musk agreed in a September 29th settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to step down as chairman within 45 days. Musk, who didn’t not admit wrongdoing under the settlement, was also fined $20 million. Tesla was also fined and the company agreed to other conditions, including adding two independent board members.

Musk tweeted that the report is “incorrect.”

The tweet was sent at 4:20 p.m. PT, which is obviously a complete coincidence and has absolutely nothing to do with marijuana or a “wink wink nudge nudge” reference to what kicked off the SEC investigation and securities fraud complaint.

The SEC complaint alleged that Musk lied when he tweeted on August 7 that he had “funding secured” for a private takeover of the company at $420 per share. Federal securities regulators reportedly served Tesla with a subpoena just a week after the tweet. Investigations can take years before any action is taken, if at all. In this case, charges were filed just six weeks later.

The complaint contains a number of eye-browing raising details, including that he had talked to the board about an offer to take Tesla private as early as August 2 when he sent to Tesla’s board of directors, chief financial officer and general counsel an email with the subject, “Offer to Take Tesla Private at $420.”

According to the complaint, Musk calculated the $420 price per share based on a 20 percent premium over that day’s closing share price because he thought 20 percent was a “standard premium” in going-private transactions.

This calculation resulted in a price of $419. Musk stated that he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend “would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price,” according to the complaint.

The judge presiding over the agreement has asked the SEC and Musk to submit a letter by Oct. 11 before approving the settlement.

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