Musk denies rumours of James Murdoch as lead candidate for Tesla chairman

Emily Nicolle
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Tesla Shares Slide After Auto Maker Announces That It Will Remain Public
Tesla's hunt for its next chairman rages on (Source: Getty)

Tesla billionaire Elon Musk has denied reports that 21st Century Fox chief and Tesla board member James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace him as chairman of the electric carmaker.

In response to a report by the Financial Times late last night that Murdoch was the favourite to take the top spot, Musk tweeted at 4:20pm Pacific time that the story was "incorrect".

He did not respond to follow up questions as to whether he was referring to Murdoch's position at the top of the leader board, or whether Murdoch was in the running at all. The Financial Times also said Tesla's leading independent director Antonio Gracias is under consideration for the role.

Read more: Tesla shares fall after Musk trolls US securities watchdog

Musk was ousted as Tesla's chairman but allowed to remain on board as its chief executive in a settlement deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month, which had charged him with securities fraud.

Musk was also personally fined $20m (£15.1m) as part of the settlement, while Tesla paid out an additional $20m.

The case revolved around Musk's now infamous 7 August tweet, in which he wrote: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured."

The SEC's complaint against Musk alleged he had settled on $420 per share by adding a 20 per cent premium to Tesla's share price at $419, and then rounding it up to $420 because of the number's significance in marijuana culture and because he thought his girlfriend "would find it funny".

It also transpired Musk had not secured funding for a private buyout of the firm, but had instead had some conversations with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund who had reportedly voiced support for funding a potential deal if the conditions were suitable.

Musk has until 6 November to step down as chairman of Tesla.