Elon Musk may ‘step back’ if shareholders reject $56bn pay package, Tesla chair warns


The chair of Tesla has raised the prospect of Elon Musk stepping back from the electric carmaker if shareholders do not back the chief executive’s $56bn (£44bn) pay package, saying there are “other places” the entrepreneur could spend his time.

Robyn Denholm added in a letter to investors that next week’s vote on the biggest remuneration deal in US corporate history was “obviously not about the money” because Musk would remain one of the richest people on the planet regardless of the outcome.

Denholm said Musk could step away from Tesla, or spend less time at the company, if the vote on 13 June went against him. Investors approved Musk’s original $56bn (£44bn) pay deal in 2018 but it was struck down by a judge in January, forcing the board to ask them to ratify it again.

“What we recognised in 2018 and continue to recognise today is that one thing Elon most certainly does not have is unlimited time. Nor does he face any shortage of ideas and other places he can make an incredible difference in the world,” Denholm wrote. “We want those ideas, that energy and that time to be at Tesla, for the benefit of you, our owners. But that requires reciprocal respect.”

Musk’s other business interests include the rocket company SpaceX, artificial intelligence startup xAI and X, the social media platform. Some Tesla investors have expressed concern about his ability to focus on Tesla. Musk’s behaviour on X, where he has more than 186 million followers, has also irritated one institutional investor in Tesla, Ross Gerber, who said it has “absolutely damaged the [Tesla] brand”.


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