Fisker's ties to Advanced Equities go beyond funding.
FORTUNE — Yesterday I began researching a piece on electric carmaker Fisker Automotive, whose board reportedly considered bankruptcy before retaining Evercore to seek new investments.
One of the first things I noticed was that Fisker’s website lists Peter McDonnell as a board member. He was as a senior managing director of investment banking for Advanced Equities, the broker-dealer that collapsed last month in the wake of its settlement with the SEC over (allegedly) defrauding clients.
Here’s the odd thing: The SEC settlement was announced on September 18, and McDonnell wasn’t listed as a board member on Fisker’s Sept. 26 SEC filing that revealed it had raised over $100 million in new funding (placed by AEI, with a first close also on the 18th). In other words, he was added after the world knew that AEI was bad news.
I’ve since been told that the $100m+ placement enabled investors to nominate a new director to Fisker’s board, and that their pick was McDonnell. Also been told that he resigned when Advanced Equities went under, even though Fisker hasn’t updated its website. In other words, he didn’t even last two months. What’s completely unclear, however, is why Fisker would even allow a member of Advanced Equities to join its board. Even one like McDonnell, who was not named in the SEC complaint. Let the investors pick someone, but perhaps exclude executives from a firm that just paid a big SEC penalty?
Going forward, the investors who came in via Advanced Equities apparently have the right to pick a replacement director. Not sure how they would go about doing so, however, given that Advanced Equities clients have had virtually no contact with the firm since it went under.
Also worth noting that Scott Sandell of New Enterprise Associates left the Fisker board sometime between April and September, while both Lawrence Penn (The Camelot Group) and Mindy Grossman (CEO of HSN) have left since the September 26 filing.
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