Trevor Milton CEO of Nikola
Massimo Pinca | Reuters
Nikola announced early Monday that founder Trevor Milton will voluntarily step down from his role as executive chairman and member of the board of directors.
The electric truck company said the board accepted Milton̵
“Nikola is truly in my blood and always will be, and the focus should be on the Company and its world-changing mission, not me,” Milton said in a statement. “So I made the difficult decision to join the Council and volunteer to step aside as Executive President. Founding Nikola and transforming her into a company that will change transportation for the better and help protect the climate of our world has been an incredible honor.” .
The announcement comes after short-selling firm Hindenburg Research accused Nikola of fraud. The company denied the allegations, saying there were “dozens” of inaccurate allegations in the report. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice are reportedly investigating claims that the company misled investors.
Hindenburg alleged that Milton had made false claims about Nikola’s technology in order to grow and secure partnerships with automakers.
In a first tweet on Monday, Milton said: “I intend to defend myself against the false accusations made against me by external detractors.”
GM recently acquired an 11% stake in the company and said it will produce Nikola’s hydrogen fuel cell electric pickup, the Badger by the end of 2022. Last week, GM CEO Mary Barra said the automaker has conducted “due diligence” regarding the $ 2 billion involved in starting the electric vehicle.
Nikola has been wildly volatile this year, rising from $ 13 in early May to the current 52-week high of $ 93.99 in June. Shares traded on Nasdaq closed Friday at $ 34.19.
The company’s average volume over the past 10 trading days was 53.2 million shares, although it only has around 361 million shares outstanding.
Nikola CEO Mark Russell said the company remains committed to its goals and shareholder value creation.
“Our priorities remain unchanged and, in collaboration with our partners, we are focused on the laser in executing our strategic initiatives and laying the groundwork for becoming a vertically integrated zero-emission transport solution provider,” said Russell in a declaration.
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