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Tesla Shareholders Back Record Pay Package for Elon Musk, Approve Move to Texas

Tesla shareholders have endorsed a record-breaking pay package for CEO Elon Musk and approved a plan to relocate the company’s legal headquarters to Texas. This decision marks a significant victory for Musk, who had ardently advocated for the compensation deal, valued at up to $56 billion (£43.9 billion), contingent on Tesla’s stock performance.

Earlier this year, a judge in Delaware had blocked the deal, citing concerns over its fairness to shareholders. Despite this, the recent vote demonstrated strong support for Musk, with 72% of the votes cast in favor of the pay package, closely mirroring the 73% approval it received in 2018 when first introduced.

A Contentious Battle Over Compensation

The pay package, which significantly exceeds the earnings of top executives in the U.S., had faced criticism for potentially demonstrating excessive leniency by Tesla’s board towards Musk. In January, Delaware Judge Kathaleen McCormick ruled the package “unfair” and criticized the process for its approval, highlighting the close personal relationships between Musk and several board members, including Antonio Gracias and Todd Maron.

Mathieu Shapiro, managing partner at law firm Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, noted that the shareholder vote might not sway the court’s decision. “The vote changes nothing,” he said, indicating that while the vote might influence future decisions, it does not alter the current legal standing.

Elon Musk’s Response and Shareholder Support

At Tesla’s annual meeting in Texas, Musk expressed his gratitude to shareholders, exclaiming, “Hot damn, I love you guys,” to an enthusiastic crowd. The meeting also saw the re-election of board members James Murdoch and Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk’s brother.

Musk’s supporters argue that the pay package is justified given Tesla’s substantial growth under his leadership. Industry analyst Karl Brauer described the vote as a “ringing endorsement,” pointing to the impressive appreciation in Tesla’s stock value since 2018. Former Tesla director Georg Ell echoed this sentiment, noting that investors who supported Tesla from 2018 have seen significant returns on their investments.

Challenges and Future Prospects

Despite the shareholder approval, Tesla faces challenges in the court system. The initial lawsuit that led to the Delaware court’s ruling alleged that the performance targets tied to Musk’s compensation were merely internal growth projections. This legal contention remains unresolved, leaving the future of the pay package uncertain.

Musk’s push to move Tesla’s legal headquarters to Texas follows the court’s decision in Delaware. The relocation is part of a broader trend, with Musk previously announcing the move of Tesla’s operational headquarters from California to Texas in 2021.

As Tesla navigates this complex situation, the recent shareholder vote underscores the strong support for Musk’s leadership and the company’s direction. However, the final outcome will depend on the ongoing legal proceedings and whether the courts will uphold the shareholders’ endorsement of Musk’s unprecedented compensation package.

Sofía Martinez

Sofía is a tech news reporter based in Austin, Texas. Sofía graduated in Journalism from Mexico City University and is passionate about leveraging technology for a better world. She focuses on reporting its advancements in a responsible and ethical manner.

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