Nikola founder sells shares for $ 49 million

The founder of the besieged electric truck start-up Nikola sold $ 49 million in company stock, a deal that was posted late on a Friday night of a holiday weekend.

Trevor Milton, who stepped down as executive chairman seven months ago following a short seller report and online charges, sold 3.5 million Nikola shares on Wednesday at a closing price of $ 13.89. The transaction appeared on the Securities and Exchange Commission website two days later after business hours, suggesting a desire to avoid publishing the sale.

The price was above the 52-week low of $ 10.51, but a fraction of the stock’s June high at $ 93.99.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based company declined to comment.

The US Department of Justice and the SEC are investigate Nikola, which short seller Hindenburg Research called “complex fraud”. The company disputes the qualification, but admitted that many of the statements Milton made about Nikola’s technical progress and prowess were wholly or partially inaccurate.

The pre-income company intends to sell heavy electric trucks to customers who will then pay a subscription to use the hydrogen refueling network planned by Nikola.

Nikola caught the eye last summer when he became public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company; Not only was its name linked to that of electric car maker Tesla (both named after inventor Nikola Tesla), its founder had a Twitter fondness similar to Elon Musk. General Motors announced in September that it would take a stake in the business, but after the short seller’s report and subsequent investigations, the deal turned into a smaller deal to supply the start-up.

Milton has made impetuous statements about Nikola in interviews, press releases and on social media. Among the claims the company said were inaccurate was Milton’s claim that one of the first trucks, the Nikola One, could fully function. A now infamous video purported to show the truck ‘in motion’ actually depicted it. to roll a hill.

Nikola tries to relegate Miltonthe ownership of the mirror. The company scrapped its plan to build a pickup truck with GM and shut down an all-terrain vehicle and watercraft manufacturing division. But he has had to pay $ 8.1 million so far for his legal fees.

Milton remains Nikola’s largest shareholder, with 21% of the company. Managing Director Mark Russell holds the second largest stake with just under 11%.

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