March 5, 2019 | 9:57pm
Tesla’s largest outside shareholder thinks the automaker will be just fine if the Securities and Exchange Commission decides to oust Elon Musk from his role as chief executive officer.
“We wouldn’t be against him having a different role,” Baillie Gifford global equities head James Anderson said in an interview.
“I don’t think he needs to be CEO,” Anderson told Barron’s, saying the billionaire inventor could take a “chief ideologue” position.
Anderson’s firm owns a 7.7 percent stake in the electric-car company that’s worth over $3.5 billion. Only Musk owns more, with a stake of almost 20 percent.
Last week, the SEC demanded Musk be held in contempt of court for a Feb. 19 tweet about Tesla production numbers that the watchdog deemed misleading.
The action prompted a federal judge to demand Musk explain himself by March 11.
The judge is tasked with overseeing a settlement Musk inked with the SEC last year over an August tweet suggesting he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private. There was no such funding.
The SEC deal has allowed Musk to avoid being removed as CEO by stepping down from his chairmanship and agreeing to get approval from company lawyers before sending Tesla-related tweets.
Musk’s possible future role at Tesla comes as the carmaker’s stock continues to slide following its announcement of a $35,000 Model 3 sedan last week.
Shares of Tesla were down 3 percent on Tuesday, and have slid more than 14 percent since last Thursday’s price cut.
The stock took a hit Tuesday after Barclays cut its price target to $192 — the lowest on the Street — saying in a note that Tesla’s price cuts and store closures have tarnished its image as the Apple of carmakers.
“Much of the bull narrative has rested on Tesla being the next Apple, selling high-volume EVs . . . at high gross margins, in part aided by a unique branded retail presence — a narrative we see as undermined by the recent price cuts,” analysts Brian Johnson and Steven Hempel said in their research note.