Nikola Chairman Trevor Milton Resigns Amid Fraud Claims
The new president, Mr Girsky, played a key role in Nikola’s rise to power. After stepping down from GM’s board of directors in 2016, he created an investment company, VectoIQ, to provide strategic and financial assistance to auto tech start-ups. He also set up a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC, which owned nothing but cash and a list of stocks. When VectoIQ’s SPAC merged with Nikola in June, Nikola became a publicly traded company and Mr. Girsky joined its board of directors.
Mr. Girsky was also a catalyst for GM’s partnership with Nikola. In the past, he said he brought in former GM engineers to assess Nikola’s technology and business prospects while considering the PSPC merger. When he realized that GM had developed fuel cell and battery technology that Nikola could use, he put Mr. Milton in touch with GM chief executive Mary T. Barra.
“The initial presentations were made by Steve Girsky,” Ms. Barra said on a conference call to announce the partnership.
The day-to-day management of Nikola is in the hands of Mark Russell, the Managing Director, whose ties to Mr. Milton go back several years. Prior to joining Nikola as President last year, he was Managing Director of Worthington Industries, a diverse manufacturer of steel products such as propane, hydrogen, helium and natural gas tanks. Worthington acquired Mr. Milton’s diesel conversion company of Hybrid Systems in 2014 and also invested in Nikola.
In August, before the announcement of Nikola’s deal with GM, Mr. Russell noted the company’s dependence on suppliers. “We’ve been looking for partners from the start,” he told Bloomberg TV. “We are going to be a partner company.
Before Mr Milton resigned, Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research who tracks the evolution of electric vehicles, noted that offering bullish forecasts was typical of Silicon Valley start-ups and that automakers regularly showed first prototypes far from production vehicles.
“It certainly looks like Nikola inherently doesn’t have any notable technology,” he said. “They have a vision and have partnerships in place with companies that have the technology and are trying to bring it all together.”
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