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James Murdoch in line to replace Musk as Tesla chairman...

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James Murdoch in line to replace Elon Musk as Tesla chairman just weeks after he was forced out by SEC because he tweeted about taking the company private

  • Murdoch is the son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch
  • James Murdoch will soon step down as CEO of Twenty-First Century Fox
  • The company is selling its entertainment assets to Disney 
  • Murdoch is a non-executive member of Tesla's board of directors 

By Ariel Zilber and Hannah Moore For Dailymail.com and Reuters and Associated Press

Published: 13:47 EDT, 10 October 2018 | Updated: 18:01 EDT, 10 October 2018

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Outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc Chief Executive James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace Elon Musk as Tesla Inc chairman, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing two people briefed on the discussions.

Tesla and Musk reached a settlement with U.S. Securities and Exchange regulators last month in which they agreed to pay $20million each to financial regulators and that the billionaire would step down as chairman but remain as CEO.

Murdoch, the son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, already serves on the board of the electric car maker in a non-executive capacity. 

The young Murdoch, who is stepping down as CEO of Twenty-First Century Fox after completion of the company's acquisition by Disney, is among the leading candidates, though sources caution FT that external options are being considered. 

Sources close to Murdoch say that he is interested in the job. 

Musk is said to be advocating for Antonio Gracias, the founder of investment firm Valor Equity Partners, to take over the helm of the company.

But this is unlikely due to Gracias' extensive financial ties with Musk's other companies, including SpaceX. 

Outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc Chief Executive James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace Elon Musk (above) as Tesla Inc chairman
Outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc Chief Executive James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace Elon Musk (above) as Tesla Inc chairman

Outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Inc Chief Executive James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace Elon Musk (above) as Tesla Inc chairman

James Murdoch (seen right with wife Kathryn Hufschmid), the son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, already serves on the board of the electric car maker in a non-executive capacity
James Murdoch (seen right with wife Kathryn Hufschmid), the son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, already serves on the board of the electric car maker in a non-executive capacity

James Murdoch (seen right with wife Kathryn Hufschmid), the son of billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, already serves on the board of the electric car maker in a non-executive capacity

Musk was accused of posting 'false and misleading information' to Twitter about taking his company private at $420 a share on August 7.

The acclaimed engineer told his followers he'd secured funding and only needed a shareholder vote to proceed.

The SEC claims Musk's tweets had no factual basis, and caused chaos in the stock market, which hurt investors. 

Musk's tweets saw Tesla's stock jump by more than six per cent on August 7, but the price crashed by more than 13 per cent when the SEC filed its complaint.  

Musk said he was taking his company private at $420 a share, which the SEC alleges was a number chosen to get a laugh out of his girlfriend, who introduced him to marijuana. Musk raised eyebrows last month when he appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast and smoked weed
Musk said he was taking his company private at $420 a share, which the SEC alleges was a number chosen to get a laugh out of his girlfriend, who introduced him to marijuana. Musk raised eyebrows last month when he appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast and smoked weed

Musk said he was taking his company private at $420 a share, which the SEC alleges was a number chosen to get a laugh out of his girlfriend, who introduced him to marijuana. Musk raised eyebrows last month when he appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast and smoked weed

The SEC claimed Musk had not lined up backers and he'd predicted the $420-per-share price based on a 20 per cent premium to the previous day's closing rate, because he thought this would be the typical uplift paid by a bidder taking a firm private. 

This calculation came out at $419.  

The SEC alleges Musk upped it to $420 because the number is code in marijuana culture referring to the consumption of the drug, and he thought his girlfriend, Canadian singer Grimes, would find it funny.

'According to Musk, he calculated the $420 price per share based on a 20 per cent premium over that day's closing share price because he thought 20 per cent was a 'standard premium' in going-private transaction,' court documents submitted by the SEC said.

'This calculation resulted in a price of $419, and Musk stated that he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number's significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend "would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price".' 

Musk is said to be advocating for Antonio Gracias (above), the founder of investment firm Valor Equity Partners, to take over the helm of the company
Musk is said to be advocating for Antonio Gracias (above), the founder of investment firm Valor Equity Partners, to take over the helm of the company

Musk is said to be advocating for Antonio Gracias (above), the founder of investment firm Valor Equity Partners, to take over the helm of the company

He will be able to continue as the CEO of Tesla, but cannot be chairman again for three years. Musk will be solely responsible for paying his $20million fine.

Tesla will have to pay a second $20million fine, and appoint two independent directors to replace Musk.  

Musk said the SEC complaint was 'unjustified'. 

'This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed,' he said.

'I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. 

'Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way.' 

Neither Musk nor Tesla admitted or denied the SEC's findings as part of the settlement. 

Musk's legal dramas did not end with the settlement. 

The embattled tech whiz is also facing legal action from a British diver who helped to rescue a soccer team of Thai boys when they became trapped in a cave. 

The embattled tech whiz Musk is also facing legal action from a British diver, Vernon Unsworth, who helped to rescue a soccer team of Thai boys when they became trapped in a cave. Vernon Unsworth alleges Musk falsely accused him on Twitter of being a pedophile
The embattled tech whiz Musk is also facing legal action from a British diver, Vernon Unsworth, who helped to rescue a soccer team of Thai boys when they became trapped in a cave. Vernon Unsworth alleges Musk falsely accused him on Twitter of being a pedophile

The embattled tech whiz Musk is also facing legal action from a British diver, Vernon Unsworth, who helped to rescue a soccer team of Thai boys when they became trapped in a cave. Vernon Unsworth alleges Musk falsely accused him on Twitter of being a pedophile

Vernon Unsworth alleges Musk falsely accused him on Twitter of being a pedophile.

Musk called Unsworth 'a pedo guy' after the Brit criticized him in a television interview about the dramatic rescue.

Musk and SpaceX engineers built a small submarine and shipped it to Thailand to help with the rescue. 

The device wasn't used, and Unsworth called it a 'PR stunt' during a television interview.

Later, Musk accused Unsworth of moving to Thailand to 'be with a bride who was about 12 years old'.

In a series of tweets on July 15, Musk, who personally delivered the submarine to the cave, wrote that he never saw Mr Unsworth and challenged him to show a video of the final rescue.

'Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it,' he tweeted. Later on Twitter, Musk wrote: 'Bet ya a dollar it's true.'

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court seeks more than $75,000 in damages and a court order stopping Mr Musk from making further allegations.  

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