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Tesla Adds James Murdoch To Board In Effort To Become More Independent

Deadline logo Deadline 7/17/2017 David Lieberman
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Tesla’s Elon Musk turned to the media world to help him address the criticism from several major shareholders that the auto company’s board was too beholden to him.

It said today that Fox CEO James Murdoch and Johnson Publishing Company CEO Linda Johnson Rice — whose company publishes Ebony and Jet magazines — have joined Tesla’s board. Their appointments increase the size of the group to nine members.

They’ll each receive an option to buy 16,668 Tesla shares on June 18, 2018, if they remain on the board through then, Tesla says in an SEC filing. They’ll also be paid “pursuant to the Company’s standard outside director compensation package.”

The company announcement doesn’t say on what committees Murdoch and Rice will serve.

Musk said in April that he would add two independent directors in response to a complaint from New York City’s Comptroller, Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Finds, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Hermes Equity, and CrW Investment Group.

They observed, in a letter, that “only one of the current directors has been appointed since the IPO in 2010. Several are early-stage investors who remain on the board even though the firms with which they are affiliated are no longer significant holders.”

Thy called for “a more diverse group of directors whose backgrounds and skills are more closely aligned with the company’s current strategy.”

In early 2016 Rupert Murdoch, James’ father, tweeted his enthusiasm for Musk’s SpaceX commercial space company. “American innovation! Nothing beats SpaceX. Quickly becomes world leader in massive space business. All made in US. Triumph for Elon Musk,” Murdoch wrote.

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