Tesla backer says Musk doesn’t need to be CEO

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Mike Blake | Reuters

SpaceX founder Elon Musk looks on at a post-launch news conference after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifted off on an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, March 2, 2019.

A major Tesla backer doesn’t fear an SEC-inspired ouster of CEO Elon Musk, according to a new report by Barron’s.

“We wouldn’t be against him having a different role,” James Anderson, head of global equities for Baillie Gifford, told Barron’s. “I don’t think he needs to be CEO.”

Baillie Gifford is the second-largest stakeholder in Tesla behind Musk. The U.K.-based investment firm owns 7.7 percent of the company — or roughly $3.8 billion worth — according to FactSet. Musk owns 19.7 percent, while the third-largest investor, T. Rowe Price, owns 5.2 percent.

Musk is facing contempt of court allegations after he tweeted what the SEC claims was “inaccurate” information about Tesla’s production outlook. Tesla admitted to the SEC that Musk had not received approval to tweet the information, which is required by a settlement agreement struck between the agency and Tesla last fall.

Tesla has long touted the importance of keeping Musk in the top spot, saying in annual SEC filings that Tesla is “highly dependent on the services of Elon Musk, our Chief Executive Officer and largest stockholder.”

Anderson agreed that Musk is essential to Tesla, but suggested a less formal role to Barron’s like “chief ideologue.”

In December, Baillie Gifford contributed to a $500 million fundraising round in Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Read more at Barron’s.

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