Outgoing Twenty-First Century Fox Chief Executive James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace Elon Musk as Tesla chairman, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, but Musk in a tweeted reply to the newspaper said, "This is incorrect."
Tesla has until Nov. 13 to appoint an independent chairman of the board, part of settlements reached last month between Tesla, Musk and U.S. regulators in the wake of Musk tweeting in August that he had secured funding to take the electric car maker private.
The SEC settlement capped months of debate and some investor calls for stronger oversight of Musk, whose recent erratic public behavior raised concerns about his ability to steer the money-losing company through a rocky phase of growth.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which said Musk's tweeted statements about going private were fraudulent, allowed the billionaire to retain his role as CEO while requiring he give up his chairmanship.
Musk had said he was considering taking Tesla private at a price of $420 a share, a number that is slang for marijuana. He tweeted the three-word denial of the Financial Times story, on Wednesday at 4:20 pm PT (2320 GMT), about six hours after the newspaper's post.
In a vote of confidence for Musk, shareholder T. Rowe Price Group said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that it had raised its stake by nearly half to 10.2 percent at the end of September from just under 7 percent in June.
The Financial Times cited two people briefed on discussions saying Murdoch was the lead candidate for the job.