U.S. Markets close in 3 hrs 54 mins

Tesla shares drop sharply after Musk announces CFO Deepak Ahuja is leaving the company — for the second time

Robert Ferris
  • Tesla CFO Deepak Ahuja plans to retire from Tesla sometime in 2019. 
  • He will be replaced by Zach Kirkhorn, who is currently Tesla's vice president of finance. 
  • Ahuja first joined Tesla in 2008, then left in 2015.
  • He returned in 2017 to replace then-CFO Jason Wheeler, who abruptly resigned.  

Tesla's long-time chief financial officer, Deepak Ahuja, is retiring from the company after almost 11 years, CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday. 

It's the second time Ahuja has resigned from the company. He was one of Tesla's longest serving executives when he first left in 2015. Ahuja rejoined Tesla in 2017, replacing then-CFO Jason Wheeler, who abruptly resigned.

Shares of Tesla fell about 5 percent after the markets closed Wednesday night.

Moving into the CFO role at the electric vehicle maker is Zach Kirkhorn, previously the company's vice president of finance. Ahuja said, "I feel really good about Zach taking over. He's proven his self over the years with many tough challenges he's worked on."

Musk announced the change at the end of a conference call with analysts discussing the company's fourth-quarter earnings results.

Kirkhorn said, "I've been deep in the operations of every major program of the company from Roadster to…scaling our energy business and more things to come. I feel we're starting 2019 with a very strong financial foundation. We have enough cash to start new programs and develop new technologies." Prior to his joining Tesla TSLA in 2010, Kirkhorn was formerly a business analyst at McKinsey & Co.

Musk said Ahuja will "continue to be at Tesla for a few more months, and will continue to serve as a senior adviser to Tesla for years to come."

Ahuja first joined Tesla as CFO at the worst possible time: July 2008. He was with the company when it went public in 2010.

Tesla's finance team has seen high turnover in the past year with one chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, spending less than a month at the company.

Other long-time veterans have been resigning from Tesla in the past six months, for example, Charles Mwangi, a senior director of engineering who had been with Tesla since 2012, and one of Tesla's first-ever sales hires, Jeremy Snyder, who left his role as head of global business development there in August, according to his LinkedIn profile.

More From CNBC