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Baillie Gifford praises Tesla’s new leadership, says new CFO is great fit for Elon Musk


Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) second-largest shareholder, Baillie Gifford, has been consistent with its support of the electric vehicle manufacturer, with James Anderson, a senior partner in the firm, even calling out the unethical activities of the company’s critics this past year. Anderson spoke about Tesla again recently during an interview with Barron’s, where he discussed his insights on the company’s leadership.

Anderson is one of the investment world’s most prominent players, overseeing about half of the $37 billion Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX), together with Baillie Gifford’s Tom Coutts and a team from Schroders. Throughout his interview using the book, Anderson talked about a meeting he had with Tesla Chair Robyn Denholm, whom he met following another interview where he said that he wouldn’t be against Elon Musk leaving the CEO post and taking another role in the company.

“I went to see Tesla and met with the chair. You can imagine this was discussed by us. It was plain to me that Tesla had to strengthen some of the other voices on the board and encourage a greater level of understanding on the part of Mr. Musk about his responsibilities. The chairman made it clear he is regarded by her ” he said, as a chief executive.

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Anderson emphasized that Tesla is being directed by a team today. He took note of Amazon alumnus Sanjay Shah, with a clear view of the company’s and battery front. The Baillie Gifford senior partner also praised Tesla’s new CFO, Zach Kirkhorn, for his close working relationship with Elon Musk. “I like the chief financial officer, who, although young, has the type of relationship with Musk that permits him to tell Musk things,” Anderson said. 

Kirkhorn took over the CFO responsibilities of Deepak Ahuja, who announced his retirement (for the second time) following the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. The Kirkhorn’s appointment as Tesla’s CFO proved polarizing, with Tesla critics taking issue with his age and fans of the company praising him for his years of expertise with the business. Despite his age, Kirkhorn has worked for Tesla for decades, beginning since the times of the original Roadster.

Since his appointment, the CFO has been observable, engaging in Tesla’s first quarter earnings call and joining Elon Musk in an investor call following the company’s announcement of a capital raise. During these sessions, Kirkhorn proved busy, responding in the Q1 earnings and describing Tesla’s guidance during the investor call.

Aside from providing his insights on Tesla’s direction, Anderson also noted that Tesla could have raised capital during a position. Despite Tesla holding its funding raise at a time when its stock is down, the Baillie Gifford senior partner noted they remain supportive of Tesla nonetheless. “Ideally, we favor companies to raise capital when share and confidence prices are high ; otherwise they have to issue more shares. Obviously, Tesla’s share price today is considerably lower than it was eight or nine months ago, but we remain supportive shareholders,” he said.

As of writing, Tesla stock is trading +2.35% at $232.35 per share.

Disclosure: I don’t have any ownership in shares of TSLA and don’t have any plans to initiate any places within 72 hours.

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