Baillie Gifford and Blackrock clash over Tesla

Regulatory filing reveals which asset managers rejected bid to oust Elon Musk as chairman

Baillie Gifford and Blackrock have fallen on opposite sides of a recent shareholder proposal to replace Elon Musk (pictured) as chairman of Tesla.

Baillie Gifford voted against a measure which would have required the chairman of the group to be an independent director, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing the firm submitted last week.

The asset manager, who owns 7.72% of Tesla, has remained tight-lipped on Musk’s recent erratic behaviour. The group’s £7.9bn Scottish Mortgage Trust, its largest closed-ended vehicle, holds 5.7% of its portfolio in Tesla, representing 1.8 million shares of Baillie Gifford’s total 13.2 million shares.

The shareholder vote would not have effected Musk’s role as chief executive of the $53bn electric car company.

Baillie Gifford was at odds with fellow majority shareholder Blackrock who voted to replace Tesla’s eccentric billionaire founder, according to a SEC filing it made on Thursday.

Blackrock in the minority

The world’s biggest asset manager was in the minority, however. More than 86 million votes were cast against the proposal at a shareholder meeting in June, while fewer than 17 million voted in favour, Tesla told Reuters.

Vanguard and Fidelity Investments, who also own sizeable positions in Tesla, voted against the independent-chair proposal. Collectively the fund groups own 13% of the firm.

Blackrock held a 3.55% stake in the business as of 8 August.

A Blackrock spokeswoman told Reuters: “Blackrock’s approach to investment stewardship is driven by our fiduciary duties to our clients, the asset owners. Our approach to engaging with companies and proxy voting activities is consistent with our commitment to drive long term shareholder value for our clients.”

Baillie Gifford tight-lipped

Baillie Gifford would not comment on its decision to vote against the independent chairman requirement.

Musk took Wall Street by surprise when he told his 22.3m Twitter followers earlier this month that he had secured backing to take the company private at $420 a share.

Telsa has since taken to Twitter to confirm it is staying a public company.

Though Tesla’s share price took off on the day of Musk’s tweets, rising to $379.57, it abruptly reversed those gains as it emerged the SEC were looking into the CEO’s statements, which it was later revealed were not approved by the board. Shares are now trading at $303.15 per share only 2% higher than they were at the end of July.

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