Tesla Names James Murdoch and Linda Johnson Rice to Board

Elias Hubbard
July 18, 2017

Tesla is adding two new executives from major media companies as directors after investors pressured the electric-car maker to diversify a board with members who aren't closely tied to Elon Musk.

Though the measure to declassify the board failed, the company did seek to hire directors who lacked connections to Musk, either through his rocket company SpaceX or SolarCity, the company run by his cousin until Tesla's controversial acquisition a year ago.

Linda Johnson Rice, who heads Ebony Magazine publisher Johnson Publishing Co., is the other director named to the board.

Tesla has been pressured for months by large investors who encouraged the auto company to add a couple of directors who didn't have ties to Musk. CEO James Murdoch, increasing its board size to nine.

Musk suggested Tesla would appoint two additional directors when he responded on Twitter to a group of five investors, including the California State Teachers' Retirement System, that were calling for improved corporate governance.

The same investor group also asked for annual elections for board directors, a proposal which was failed at the company's annual shareholder meeting in June. He previously was the conglomerate's co-COO, chairman and CEO for Europe and Asia, as well as chairman of BSkyB, Sky Deutschland, and Sky Italia, the businesses that now comprise Sky plc.

In announcing Murdoch's appointment to the Tesla board, the company called out his "decade-long leadership on environmental sustainability", noting that he and his wife, Kathryn Murdoch, are founders of a family foundation, Quadrivium, that supports initiatives involving natural resources, science, civic life, childhood health, and equal opportunity. In addition to being a key driver of 21CF's domestic and worldwide expansion, James has been instrumental in the company's robust social impact initiatives, including its decade-long leadership on environmental sustainability. In 2016, Johnson Publishing Company sold Ebony and Jet to Clear View Group (which formed Ebony Media Holdings), while retaining ownership of its Fashion Fair cosmetics brand and photography archives.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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