Nikola Corporation issued a statement on Friday, Sept. 11, in response to claims made about Nikola by Hindenburg Research, which has a short position on Nikola’s stock:
“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,” the statement reads. “They have already taken up more time and attention than they deserve.”
Nikola says it has retained a law firm to evaluate potential legal recourse and intends to bring the actions of Hindenburg to the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Hindenburg Research report makes a series of claims against Nikola, the hydrogen fuel cell and electric automaker. The report was released as Nikola announced a partnership with General Motors to produce the Badger zero-emissions pickup.
Among many allegations, the report claims that Nikola staged a video called “Nikola One in Motion” which showed the semi-truck cruising on a road at a high rate of speed. Hindenburg’s research claims the video “was an elaborate ruse,” that Nikola had the truck towed to the top of a hill on a remote stretch of road and filmed it rolling down the hill. (Nikola said the truck was “in motion,” which is technically true.)
The report also claims that in an October 2019 announcement that Nikola promised to “revolutionize the battery industry” through a pending acquisition, though the deal fell through and that Trevor Milton, founder and chairman of Nikola, never walked back the claims even with knowledge that the technology was “vaporware.”
Regarding the GM deal, the Hindenburg report says that “Nikola seeks to use the automaker’s production and fuel cell capabilities. Nikola seems to be bringing nothing to the partnership but concept designs, their brand name and up to $700 million they will be paying GM for costs related to production.”
On Twitter, Milton said he’s “working on rebuttal of Hindenburg for 14 hours” but later said he “wouldn’t comment further on advice of counsel” and “will have to wait to be until the SEC finishes their work.” He did, however, tweet photos he said were of Nikola trucks being built in Ulm, in response to charges in the "report" that none had yet been built.
These were planned to release later but alleged trucks didn't exist in Ulm Germany. Do these look fake? Thanks to the Ulm fab / assembly teams for showing the trolls what's up. You guys have my admiration. [email protected]&k the haters. Well come back stronger from the lies spread about us. pic.twitter.com/uqkAxyAG8o— Trevor Milton (@nikolatrevor) September 11, 2020
Nikola’s shares were down more than 10% in Friday's trading on the news.