Musk’s Tesla hails fellow short-selling sceptic Mizuno to board

Former Japan pension investment chief joins electric car giant

Elon Musk’s Tesla has welcomed short-selling sceptic Hiromichi Mizuno, the former investment chief of the world’s largest pension fund, to the board of the electric car giant.

Mizuno, who becomes an independent director and joins its audit committee, recently left his post as CIO at the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF).

His tenure at the GPIF was noted by a shift towards environmental, social and governance concerns at the influential investor. In December he made a splash by calling into question the practice of short-selling.

Mizuno is a "a global thought leader in sustainable and responsible investment" – Tesla

The GPIF would no longer allow stocks in its $370bn foreign equity portfolio to be lent out for the purposes of short selling. “I never met a short seller who has a long-term perspective,” Mizuno was quoted saying at the time.

Musk, known for railing that Tesla is often a target of short-selling, tweeted in response to this that short-selling should be illegal.

The Covid-19 crisis led many jurisdictions to ban short-selling for a time.

Tesla said in a statement that Mizuno “emphasized the importance of environmental considerations in portfolio management and became a global thought leader in sustainable and responsible investment”.

It added that he “also challenged many established market practices, including short-selling, to promote long-term value creation by corporations”.

The company noted his role as a board member of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and his involvement with the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council, and the Japanese government’s strategic fund integrated advisory board.

Mizuno joins a board that includes media executive James Murdoch and Oracle founder Larry Ellison.

Although Mizuno is a proponent of good governance, Musk is known for his own governance run-ins, not least a large fine from the SEC over an abortive bid to take Tesla private.

Next on the agenda for Tesla are its first-quarter results, due on April 29.