James Murdoch, who is in the final stages of detaching from 21st Century Fox before most of it is formally acquired by Disney, has emerged as the favorite to replace Elon Musk as chairman of Tesla, the Financial Times has reported.
Musk agreed to step down as chairman of the auto company in late September as part of a settlement with the SEC. The government watchdog had gone after Musk over his stated vow to take the company private.
Neither company immediately responded to Deadline’s request for comment.
The FT cited two unidentified sources familiar with the discussions involving Tesla and Murdoch, who is already a non-executive board member of the company. One of the FT’s sources said external candidates were still being considered.
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At a recent Goldman Sachs conference, Murdoch called his experience at Tesla “fascinating” and praised Musk for setting “some really audacious goals” for the maker of electric vehicles. Rupert Murdoch’s son has reached a point of divergence from the family business in recent months. Many longtime Fox observers have noted that he has already been largely written out of the narrative as brother Lachlan Murdoch takes control of the slimmed-down remainder entity. The Disney-Fox deal is expected to close early in 2019.
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Tesla’s stock has been whipsawed in recent months after Musk displayed behavior that many considered audacious in a different sense. After he called one of the rescuers of the boys trapped in a Thai cave a “pedo,” the man filed a lawsuit. He also appeared to openly smoke marijuana during an appearance on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast. In August, he tweeted that he was “considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share” — a figure some read as a sly reference to the numerical sign for pot. Even if that reference was an accident, the SEC deemed it a violation of securities law, which prompted its action against Musk.
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