Nikola Founder Makes a Curious $48.6M Stock Sale

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Nikola describes itself as a pioneer in electric trucks.



founder Trevor Milton sold more shares in his former company—again, but this one doesn’t look like a traditional sale. And the strange move seemed to drive down the electric vehicle maker’s stock on Monday.

Shares of Nikola (ticker: NKLA) were down 7.9% to $12.81 in midday trading. The

S&P 500


Dow Jones Industrial Average,

by comparison, were both up more than 1%.

Milton sold 3.5 million shares at $13.89, a transaction valued at about $48.6 million, for “goods and services” from the buyer—not cash. “The reported disposition was made in exchange for non-cash consideration in the form of a credit to the account [Milton’s] with the purchaser for goods and services provided by the purchaser in the amount of $48,615,000,” reads a footnote in the Securities and Exchange Commission filing, dated March 31.

Milton, essentially, bartered his shares. The buyer wasn’t identified. Nikola told Barron’s that it doesn’t have any information on the transaction, and Milton didn’t respond to several requests for comment.

The sale still leaves Milton with more than 79 million shares of Nikola stock. He remains the company’s largest shareholder with roughly 20% of the shares outstanding.

Milton’s stake started out at about 92 million shares. He has sold his stake down slowly with the most recent sale, before the barter transaction, coming in early March.

Milton resigned from the company after a negative report from a short seller was published in September, claiming—among other things— that Nikola management misled investors. Nikola denied the claims twice. Then, in its annual report dated Feb. 25, Nikola listed nine statements by Milton that “were inaccurate in whole or in part, when made.” The report also noted that the short seller had made inaccurate statements as well.

Milton hasn’t commented to Barron’s about the disclosures in the annual report.

Nikola stock is down about 75% from just before the short seller’s report was published. The stock is off about 13% year to date.

Write to Al Root at [email protected]

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