Despite giving up $166 million in stock options as a result of his resignation and Nikola shares plunging over the last two weeks, company founder Trevor Milton’s holdings of the company are still worth about $2.8 billion. (That is, unless the Department of Justice or SEC ultimately have anything to say about it.)
Regardless, that sum is down from the nearly $4 billion Milton was worth just last Friday, before he announced his resignation from the company, sending shares lower by another 30%.
He still owns about a third of the company, which has been at the center of fraud allegations from Hindenburg Research after the short seller alleged, among other things, that the company was an “intricate fraud” and that Nikola videoed a prototype semi rolling down a hill and passed it off to unknowing investors as running under its own power. The company later admitted that it did, in fact, roll a semi down a hill and videotape it.
Despite Milton’s resignation likely coming as a joint decision between his lawyers and crisis PR firm Joele Frank, it was positioned as a move to put the best interest of the company – and its stockholders – first.
The company announced that Stephen Girsky, who is former Vice Chairman of General Motors Co. and a member of Nikola’s board, will fill Milton’s role as chairman of the board, effective immediately.
As part of his resignation, Milton “agreed to relinquish 100% of the 4.86m performance-based stock units granted to him on Aug. 21,” according to the company’s 8-K. He also “gave up right or claim to enter into a two-year consulting agreement with an annual fee of $10 million.”
Milton’s resignation comes less than 2 weeks after Hindenburg Research’s original report calling the company an “intricate fraud” and just 6 days after Hindenburg’s follow up report stating it viewed Nikola’s response as a “tacit admission of securities fraud”.
GM has said it is going to continue to try and work with Nikola, despite the allegations.