The possibility that CEO Elon Musk could reclaim the position as Chairman of the Tesla Board of Directors looms as his September 2018 settlement with the SEC comes to a close. Less than two months before Musk will become eligible to become Tesla’s Chairman once again, its current Chairwoman, Robyn Denholm, has offloaded over $22 million in $TSLA stock.
A Form 4 Filing with the SEC reveals that Denholm, who has assumed her position as Chairwoman of Tesla’s Board since November 2018, sold more than $22 million in shares on August 2nd. The shares were sold at prices that ranged from $700 to $726.12, the filing states.
Company executives are required to file any trades with the SEC due to their status as “insiders.” When other executives, like former Heavy Trucking head Jerome Guillen and Accounting Officer Vaibhav Taneja, sold shares of the company, they were also required to file their moves with the agency.
Interestingly, selling stock as a company executive does not always result in the employee leaving the company altogether. For example, Guillen offloaded over $6 million in shares on May 13th. He subsequently left Tesla on June 3rd. Taneja, however, still remains with the company, despite selling nearly $3 million in stock in mid-July.
However, with Musk’s 2018 settlement coming to a close, the timing of the move by Denholm seems to suggest Musk may be preparing to overtake the position once again, especially considering his tumultuous past with the SEC. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to believe that Musk could reassume the role as Chairman of the Board on the exact date he was eligible to, just as an extra gesture of animosity against the agency that has long been the subject of some of Musk’s frustrations through the years.
Musk’s removal as Chairman was one of four requirements of the SEC settlement. The others being:
- Tesla will appoint a total of two new independent directors to its board;
- Tesla will establish a new committee of independent directors and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications;
- Musk and Tesla will each pay a separate $20 million penalty. The $40 million in penalties will be distributed to harmed investors under a court-approved process.
In an interview with 60 Minutes shortly after the SEC settlement, Musk said that he does not respect the agency, but he abided by the settlement because he respects the justice system. Musk has not been silent regarding his displeasure with the SEC, even tweeting a crafty, R-rated insult toward them in July 2020.
Whether Denholm steps down from her post after selling a substantial sum of Tesla stock remains to be seen.