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Tesla's finance team is losing another top executive

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 9/12/2018 Dana Hull and Eric Newcomer
A Tesla Model S automobile stands in a light tunnel during quality control checks ahead of European shipping from the Tesla Motors Inc. factory in Tilburg, Netherlands.: Tesla HP© Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg Tesla HP

Another high-ranking finance executive at Tesla Inc. is leaving the company, according to people familiar with the matter.

Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operation, is parting ways with the electric-car maker, said the people, who requested anonymity because the information hadn’t been made public. McAnear confirmed his last day at Tesla will be Oct. 7 in a statement obtained by CNBC.

Tesla representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment on McAnear, who’s one of the highest-ranking executives under Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja. The company’s finance team has been hit particularly hard amid a broader exodus of senior executives this year. Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton tendered his resignation last week after less than a month, and his predecessor in that role left in March. Susan Repo, who had been corporate treasurer and vice president of finance, also left that month.

Tesla shares briefly pared gains on the news before rebounding to close up 4 percent to $290.54. The stock is down 6.7 percent this year.

The most recent executive exits at Tesla have coincided with questionable behavior by Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk that has raised questions about his leadership and ability to recruit and retain senior managers. His tweets last month claiming he had the funding secured to take the company private drew a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which already had been scrutinizing his pronouncements regarding manufacturing goals and sales targets.

Baillie Gifford & Co., Tesla’s biggest shareholder after Musk, fielded an SEC inquiry as part of the agency’s information gathering process. The fund manager “most definitely didn’t have prior knowledge” of Musk’s efforts, James Anderson, a Baillie Gifford partner, said Wednesday in an email.

Judy Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment.

Impression of ‘Instability’

Tesla shares slumped last week to their lowest close in more than five months, battered by the departures of Morton and Chief People Officer Gabrielle Toledano, plus Musk’s decision to smoke marijuana on a comedian’s podcast. One of Tesla’s biggest bulls on Wall Street cut his rating on the carmaker this week, calling the stock “no longer investable” because of Musk’s antics.

“They’ve lost a tremendous number of executives over the last couple of months,” Romit Shah, an analyst for Nomura Instinet, said Tuesday on Bloomberg Television. “That, coupled with this erratic behavior I think is giving the market the strong impression that there’s instability inside of Tesla.”

Within Tesla, it’s common for employees to take leaves of absence before their official last day of work. Doug Field, Tesla’s former engineering chief, went on leave in May, and his last day of work was June 27. Jerome Guillen, who was recently elevated to president of automotive, took leave in 2015 but ultimately returned to the company.

Shen Jackson, Tesla’s director of manufacturing engineering, also took a leave of absence in April to spend time with his family and travel, he said in a LinkedIn post this week. He wrote that he officially stopped working at the company last week.

McAnear, a U.S. Navy aviator, joined Tesla in 2015 from Apple Inc., where he was a finance director. He previously worked at Johnson & Johnson.

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