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Tesla names close Musk friend Larry Ellison on board

(Reuters) – Tesla-Inc on Friday, with the name Oracle Corp co-founder Larry Ellison, a shareholder and self-described close friend of the Chief Executive, Elon Musk, the board of commissioners to the independent oversight required by the US regulators after Musk tweeted about the take of the electric carmaker private.

The step is intended to usher Tesla in recent months of turbulence following Musk’s Aug. 7 to tweet that he considers the company a private and had secured financing.

The rainfall, which is under the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission, then the filing of fraud against Musk for what she said was “false and misleading” tweets, have led some investors to call for a stronger council of supervision of Musk.

The inclusion of Ellison put one of the world’s richest people with experience in building a startup into a successful company on Tesla’s board of directors. He was employed as a manager at Apple at a crucial time for the company – in the five years after Steve Jobs returned to the helm of the then-struggling computer maker in 1997, with the help of surveillance one of the biggest revolutions in the corporate history.

Joining Ellison on the board of directors, effective Dec. 27, Walgreens Boots Alliance global head of human resources Kathleen Wilson-Thompson.

Charles Elson, director of the corporate governance center at the University of Delaware, questioned the add of a friend of Musk and a different director with no experience in an industrial company, like Tesla.

“Why would you want a friend (on the board) as well as the idea of the two independent directors were to be objective,” Elson said. “Investors who had hoped for two new, independent directors who would be able to stand up to Mr Musk would be quite disappointed by the choice.”

Under a court-approved agreement with the SEC, Musk agreed to pay $20 million fine and a step to the side as Tesla’s chairman for three years to offset costs that would have been forced to leave. Tesla has also agreed to have the name of the independent directors and a committee for the control of Musk communication.

SEC officials could not be reached for comment on Friday, but Harvey Pitt, the agency’s former chairman, called the addition of Ellison is a positive step.

“His personal investment in Tesla stock — said to be his greatest personal investment outside of Oracle means that he will be focused on ensuring that Tesla profitable strategies,” Pitt said. “He also has the stature to stand up to Mr. Musk, if need be.”

Tigress Financial ners analyst Ivan Feinseth said Ellison’s “maverick type of CEO characteristics” match Musk.

Ellison bought 3 million shares of Tesla earlier this year. Through a spokeswoman, he declined to comment.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla Model 3 car is displayed during a media preview at the Auto China 2018 motor show in Beijing, China, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Tesla’s shares closed up 5.6 percent to $333.87 on Friday.

Musk on Friday afternoon tweeted his welcome: “glad that Larry Ellison & Kathleen Wilson-Thompson joined the Tesla board!”

In November, Tesla was named director Robyn Denholm as chairman of the board, the fulfilment of one of the SEC’s demands. Denholm, who joined Tesla as an independent director in 2014, and agreed to step down as finance chief of the Australian telecom company Telstra Corp Ltd, spent 11 years as a senior vice president at Sun Microsystems, a unit of Oracle.

Tesla said that the investigation is “thorough, comprehensive” search process for the board, calling Ellison a “leading entrepreneur” and Wilson-Thompson “human resources leader” and said both had a passion for renewable energy. They bring the Tesla board of directors count to 11 people.

The larger-than-life Ellison, like Musk, is known for making arrogant, cheeky comments from the public. He went on a tirade of attacks of cloud computing in a 2008 analyst conference, which only served to highlight Oracle’s slowly moving in the space. He undermined Oracle’s business relationship with Hewlett Packard in 2010 in an e-mail to the New York Times that chastised the council for the firing of the CEO and his friend, Mark Hurd, following a sexual harassment investigation.

He rarely interact with journalists or blogs, and has only tweeted once 2012 message promoting Oracle’s cloud products.

“VERY GOOD FRIENDS”

Ellison, according to Forbes magazine, worth $55 billion, has in the past defended Musk.

“I’m very good friends with Elon Musk, and I am a big investor in Tesla,” Ellison, 74, said on Oct. 26 conference call with analysts.

“This man is the landing rockets,” Ellison added about Musk, referring to his leadership of SpaceX. “He is the landing rockets on robot drone rafts in the ocean, and you say that he does not know what he is doing. Well, who is the landing of a rocket?”

Wilson-Thompson, who could not immediately be reached for comment, spent 17 years at Kellogg Co. prior to joining Walgreens, and serves on the boards of two U.S. manufacturing companies.

Musk has gained fans for its bold approach of business and technology, with the help of his nearly 24 million followers on Twitter to promote Tesla, SpaceX and tunnel venture Boring Co.

Oracle’s Executive Chairman of the Board of directors and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison speaks during his keynote address at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, California, September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

But the August claiming that he was financing Tesla private, and then a U-turn, baffled Wall Street. It came as Musk was filmed in the briefly smoking marijuana during a live show, and as he called a British diver in the Thai cave rescue of a “pedo.”

Tesla’s market cap is higher than that of the traditional, established AMERICAN car manufacturers millions of vehicles and billions of dollars in profit annually, and the company has garnered legions of fans, who, despite repeated production problems.

Additional reporting by Jim Finkle, Katanga Johnson and Akanksha Rana; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Steve Orlofsky and Tom Brown

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