Nikola releases fuller denial of short seller Hindenburg’s allegations

Nikola Corp. made a fuller-throated denial of a report last week that claimed the electric-truck maker had deceived investors, accusing a short seller of mischaracterizations and distortions.

Hindenburg Research, a short seller whose report sent Nikola shares tumbling last week, made false and misleading statements that were designed to manipulate the market, Nikola said Monday. The Phoenix-based company’s shares pared a decline of as much as 16% in pre-market trading.

Nikola said Hindenburg took a comment made by an employee of Robert Bosch GmbH, a supplier and investor in the company, out of context and underestimated its capabilities to produce hydrogen for its fuel cell-powered trucks. The Phoenix-based company also said it terminated a former chief financial officer and that his departure was unrelated to the company refunding reservation deposits for its first truck prototype, as Hindenburg suggested.

Some of the responses to claims made by Hindenburg, which stands to gain from Nikola shares falling, are more so counterarguments than rebuttals. For example, the short seller took the company to task for claiming to have been working on its own inverters, but releasing a video recently that showed it had been using another company’s component with a piece of tape covering the product-description label.

Nikola confirmed it does use third-party components in prototype vehicles but that they may be swapped out for its own parts in production versions. The company said it has been working on its own inverters.

Hindenburg also panned the Nikola One, the company’s first semi truck, calling it “not a real truck” and said it corroborated a Bloomberg story from June about the company exaggerating its capabilities. Although Nikola said in its statement that the One was designed to be powered and driven by its own propulsion, its founder has said it never drove under its own power.

“The Nikola One was an incredibly successful proof of concept,” the company said Monday. In response to Hindenburg’s criticism of a promotional video that showed the truck rolling down a hill, Nikola retorted that it never said the truck was propelling itself.

Nikola shares pared a decline of as much as 16% before the start of regular trading. The stock was down 1.5% as of 8:35 a.m. in New York.

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