James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and a non-executive Tesla director, is “in line” to replace Elon Musk as chairman of the company, according to the Financial Times. Musk must relinquish the title after settling a fraud case last month with the SEC over tweets.
It’s not a sure thing yet, and the FT says there’s at least one other candidate in contention, but Murdoch is reportedly the favorite. Murdoch is currently the chief executive of 21st Century Fox, though there are plans for him to step down from that role in the wake of the company’s sale to Walt Disney; he was also the chairman of Sky before that company sold to Comcast.
Here’s more from the FT:
Two people briefed on the discussions said Mr Murdoch, who is currently a non-executive director of Tesla, was the lead candidate for the job, which is required by the SEC to be an independent chairman. Another person said external options were still being considered.
Mr Musk is also known to favour Antonio Gracias, Tesla’s lead independent director, but has been advised Mr Gracias may not be sufficiently independent because of his long-term involvement with Mr Musk’s companies. Mr Gracias’ firm, Valor Equity Partners, invested in Tesla in 2005, selling its shares in the company’s IPO in 2010. He also invested in SpaceX, Mr Musk’s rocket business.
Mr Musk declined to comment; Mr Murdoch referred calls to Tesla, which declined to comment. However, people familiar with the discussions said Mr Murdoch had signalled he wants the job.
Murdoch has been working with Tesla for months already in his capacity as a non-executive director, and he and Musk are said to be friends. Per its agreement with the SEC, Tesla must find a successor to Musk by mid-November, according to the FT.
Update, 8:27 p.m.: Musk says nah on Twitter, though it’s not clear which part of the report he’s saying is incorrect: