Elon Musk Slaps Down Rumors Of His Replacement As Tesla Chairman

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

Elon Musk shot down rampant speculation that 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch is the leading candidate to replace him as chairman of Tesla.

Per a settlement agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in September, Musk is required to step down from his position as Tesla board chairman for three years and pay a $20 million fine. However, the controversial executive is allowed to remain on as the company’s CEO.

As the hunt continues for a new chairman, many have openly wondered who the board will eventually pick. In a widely circulated article, the Financial Times reported that Murdoch, the outgoing CEO of 21st Century Fox, was the current front-runner among board members. Murdoch currently serves as a non-executive director of Tesla, and is reportedly a close friend to Musk.

“The Tesla chairman job is perfect for James,” one source told the Financial Times. “He’s working on this fund and will be sitting next to Elon … he’s going to get access to so much deal flow.”

However, Musk laid these rumors to rest on Wednesday with his shortly worded tweet. It’s not entirely clear if he meant that Murdoch was not a frontrunner for the position or if he wasn’t being considered at all.

The developments come as Musk deals with the consequences of a tweet he sent out in August, claiming that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. Federal investigators immediately looked into whether he issued that message on Twitter — where he boasts nearly 23 million followers — as a ploy to hurt short-sellers. Musk was ultimately accused of fraud and reluctantly reached a deal with the SEC. (RELATED: Musk Reportedly Threatened To Quit If Tesla Settled With SEC)

Tesla has until mid-November to find a new chairman. Beyond Murdoch, the board is reportedly also considering Antonio Gracias, the company’s independent director. Former vice president-turned environmental activist Al Gore, another rumored option, recently shot down the idea that he could become the electric vehicle company’s next chairman.

The search for a new leader comes as Musk displays increasingly erratic behavior.

The famous billionaire was sued for defamation after suggesting that one of the divers who rescued a group of boys trapped in a Thai cave was a pedophile. During a live YouTube interview in September, Musk took a drag of a cigarette filled with marijuana. Despite currently working to comply with the terms of the SEC agreement, Musk openly mocked the SEC, referring to them as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

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