Nikola Corp. (NKLA) - Get Report hit back Friday against allegations of fraud and deceit levied noted short seller Hindenburg Research, and vowed to raise the issue of market manipulation with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Nikola said it had retained Kirkland & Ellis LLP to "evaluate potential legal recourse ... to the activist short seller and any others acting in concert" following a note from Hindenburg accusing the electric-truck startup of being "an intricate fraud built on dozens of lies."
Hindenburg said it has collected data from phone calls, text messages and emails that it says detail dozens of false statements from the company's founder and CEO Trevor Milton, sending the group's shares 11.4% lower on the session and loping more than $4 billion from its market value.
Hindenburg said it has taken a short position in Nikola shares.
"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," the company said. "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. They have already taken up more time and attention than they deserve."
Nikola shares were marked 15.3% lower in early trading Friday to change hands at $31.82 each, a move that still leaves the stock with a 200% year-to-date gain and a market value of around $12 billion.
General Motors (GM) - Get Report said Thursday it stands by statements made during its joint venture announcement, when CEO Mary Barra called Nikola "an industry leading disrupter" that would help GM make another important step in fulfilling our vision of a zero-emissions future."
Earlier this week, GM said it would take an 11% stake in Nikola -- worth around $2 billion -- as it unveiled a joint venture that will see GM building the Nikola Badger, a fully-electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric pickup truck, as well as becoming the exclusive supplier of fuel cells around the world -- outside of Europe -- for Nikola's Class 7/8 trucks.