Outgoing 21st Century Fox executive James Murdoch is becoming the front-runner to replace Elon Musk as chairman of Tesla once the mercurial billionaire steps down in November.
Murdoch is currently a non-executive director of Tesla and is the lead candidate for the job, according to a Financial Times report Wednesday that cited two sources familiar with the discussion. Musk is not giving up the CEO position.
One person said external options were still being considered.
“The Tesla chairman job is perfect for James,” one source said. “He’s working on this fund and will be sitting next to Elon … he’s going to get access to so much deal flow.”
Tesla’s independent director, Antonio Gracias, is also rumored to be in the running for the job but is still financially tied to other Musk entities and may not be viewed as independent enough to take on the role.
Murdoch is a current member of the Tesla board and is an attractive candidate for the position, given his appearance of independence from Tesla’s holdings. (RELATED: Tesla Shares Tumble Into An Abyss After SEC Sues Elon Musk For Fraud)
Tesla is searching for someone to replace Musk who must leave in November after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued the company for fraud following his tweet about taking the company private.
The SEC spent two months trying to determine if Musk’s promise in August to take Tesla private was designed to hurt the company’s short sellers. Musk told his Twitter followers in an Aug. 7 post that he had enough funding to take the company out of the public domain.
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