Sunday, 3 March 2024

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Tesla board silent since court revoked Elon Musk’s $56 billion pay package

Musk's future at Tesla under scrutiny

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and X, speaks at the Atreju political convention organized by Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy), in Rome, Dec. 15, 2023.

Antonio Masiello | Getty Images

Two weeks after a Delaware court ruled that Tesla must rescind Elon Musk’s $56 billion pay package, the company’s board remains mum on what the decision means for shareholders or what’s next for the mercurial CEO.

In her 200-page opinion on Jan. 30, Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick called the pay plan the largest in public corporate history, and said it was agreed upon by people “who were beholden to Musk.” Since then, Musk has lashed out at the court, posted “Never incorporate your company in the state of Delaware” on his social media platform X, and said Tesla would hold a shareholder vote to move its site of incorporation to Texas.

Tesla hasn’t yet issued an SEC filing to notify shareholders of the ruling.

The decision came shortly after Musk indicated that he’s pushing for even more control of Tesla, posting on X in mid-January that he wanted roughly 25% voting control before turning the company into a leader in artificial intelligence and robotics. Musk is already building an AI company called xAI outside of Tesla.

The next step in the compensation case is an “implementing order” that will be hashed out between the court, Musk’s team and the lawyers representing shareholder Richard Tornetta, a former heavy metal drummer who was the plaintiff in the 2018 lawsuit filed on behalf of all Tesla investors.

As shareholders await answers, Tesla’s eight-person board, which includes Musk, his brother Kimbal, Chairwoman Robyn Denholm and former Tesla technology chief JB Straubel, has stayed silent, avoiding any public comments.

CNBC sent requests for additional information to Tesla investor relations, Musk and some board members. They all went unanswered.

Greg Varallo, who was lead counsel for Tornetta and is head of the Delaware office of Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, told CNBC that theoretically Musk and his legal team could still pursue a last-minute settlement. While Varallo said he has no knowledge of Musk’s plans, he said he expects Musk to appeal the decision to the Delaware state Supreme Court.

“I’d give you very high odds on that,” Varallo said.

Kobi Kastiel, a law professor at Tel Aviv University, also predicts that Musk will appeal the ruling. Kastiel wasn’t involved in the litigation but he co-authored a 2023 paper in the Washington University Law Review titled “Superstar…

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