Nikola’s Founder Is ‘Pissed’ and Tired of the ‘Haters’

A recent Nikola short published an exhaustive report detailing a series of allegations and calling Nikola an “intricate fraud.” Nikola founder Trevor Milton said last night he would have a “clear, factual, low-emotional answer to the report” out “before market opens.” Now, Milton said the report wouldn’t be made public for now.

Milton has had a dramatic day-and-a-half or so after the initial report, issued by Hindenburg Research, a Nikola short that says it does “forensic financial research.”

Here’s the entirety of the statement Nikola released this morning, which Milton said is all he would say about the matter for now:

Yesterday, an activist short-seller whose motivation is to manipulate the market and profit from a manufactured decline in our stock price published a so-called “report” replete with misleading information and salacious accusations directed at our founder and executive chairman. To be clear, this was not a research report and it is not accurate. This was a hit job for short sale profit driven by greed.

We have nothing to hide and we will refute these allegations. They have already taken up more time and attention than they deserve. We have retained leading law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP to evaluate potential legal recourse, including with respect to the activist short seller and any others acting in concert.

Nikola also intends to bring the actions of the activist short-seller, together with evidence and documentation, to the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

We respect the rights of investors and the integrity of the market and will be back to you after we have advanced the process with the SEC.

Most importantly, Nikola remains focused on delivering on the promises we’ve made to our stakeholders.

One thing I’ll note: Retaining legal counsel is not the same thing as filing a lawsuit, and, further, law firms are always happy to take your money. Another thing I’ll note, per Automotive News, is that Kirkland & Ellis also is repping GM in its so-far-unsuccessful lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler.

A third thing I’ll note: Here is Trevor Milton at 9:01 a.m.:

And here is Milton an hour and twenty minutes later, commenting on the thing he said he wouldn’t comment further on. The author wanted emotion and Milton is simply refusing to give it to them:

[email protected]&k the haters, indeed. Whether Nikola actually proceeds with legal action is still to be decided, then, though in a statement Hindenburg’s founder said a lawsuit would be welcomed.

“The company answered none of the 53 questions we raised in our report after promising a full rebuttal,” [Hindenburg founder Nathan Anderson] said. “We are pleased that Nikola is engaging with the SEC and we are not surprised that Trevor Milton (Nikola’s founder and executive chairman) is not commenting further on advice of counsel.”

Nikola’s stock was down 15 per cent after the announcement following an 11 per cent fall the prior day, meaning it’s pretty likely a lot of investors have already decided who they want to believe.