Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk will face pressure Tuesday to address investors’ concerns about a lack of a clear successor, weak demand and a speech at the electric carmaker’s annual shareholder meeting. Concerns about delayed launches of certain new models.
The billionaire entrepreneur, who is also Twitter’s top boss, said last week that former NBCUniversal advertising executive Linda Yaccarino will succeed him as Twitter’s chief executive, focusing on the social media company’s products and technology. Musk said the move would allow him to devote more time to the electric car maker, but his commitment to other ventures, such as new AI startups, remains a concern.
“He could spend more time at X.AI Corp. He’s passionate about AI,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management. “I think it’s a big X factor,” Munster added, adding that it’s unclear who Musk is hiring for the AI startup. Tesla shares fell 0.3 percent to $165.9 in choppy trading on Tuesday.
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Here are some topics that may be discussed at a shareholder meeting:
Investors are set to vote on a shareholder proposal calling for the company to release a report on “key man risk,” reflecting concerns that the automaker is too dependent on Musk’s leadership. The proposal seeks to identify key individuals and establish a succession process.
Musk said at last year’s shareholder meeting that he would stay with the automaker as long as he was useful, fearing that the Twitter acquisition would distract him from Tesla’s work.
Tesla director James Murdoch testified in court last November that Musk had identified someone over the past few months as a potential successor to lead the electric carmaker. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Tesla board members had discussed Chief Financial Officer Zach Kirkhorn as a possible successor to Musk as CEO, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Investors will also vote on the appointment of Tesla co-founder and former chief technology officer JB Straubel to the board. Straubel is also considered a potential successor to Musk, according to Deepwater’s Munster.
Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis advised Tesla shareholders to vote against Straubel’s appointment, citing concerns about his independence. Straubel is also CEO of battery recycling and materials company Redwood Materials. Shareholders will also vote on the re-election of Musk and chairman Robyn Denholm to the board.
Proxy advisory firm ISS advised Tesla investors to vote against Denholm’s re-election, citing concerns over a lack of scrutiny for Musk and his brother Kimbal’s use of Tesla stock as collateral for loans.
Investors want Musk to talk about demand against the backdrop of a slowing economy and increased competition. Musk said in April that the electric car maker would prioritize sales growth over profits after it missed margin targets after slashing prices.
Tesla may need to refresh its aging product line to meet its ambitious sales targets and fend off growing competition.
Musk said in April that he expected deliveries of the long-delayed Cybertruck pickup to begin in the third quarter of this year. He has said demand for the Cybertruck is strong, but it will take time to get the production line up and running on a “very aggressive product.” Investors are also awaiting details on Tesla’s cheaper electric vehicles.
First published date: May 16, 2023 at 21:10 PM CST