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Nikola CEO Russell Says Company Can Make Do Without GM Deal

Nikola CEO Mark Russell says the company won’t waver if it can’t finalize a strategic partnership with General Motors.

Nikola  (NKLA) - Get Nikola Corp. Report shares fell Friday after the electric truck maker’s CEO Mark Russell told Bloomberg the company won’t waver if it can’t finalize a strategic partnership with General Motors  (GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report.

“We have the ability and we have a base plan of doing it ourselves,” he said. “If we have a partner, that just enables us to consider going faster and helps reduce the risk. We’ve proven over the years that we are a partnership company when those things are available to us.”

An initial deal agreement had GM taking an 11% stake in Nikola in exchange for access to fuel-cell technology and for making Nikola’s pickup truck. The talks have a Dec. 3 deadline.

Nikola is set to dump the truck if it can’t reach an accord with GM, Russell said. “The Badger is part of our discussions with GM. And we’ve been clear all along that we wouldn’t build a Badger without an OEM partner,” he said.

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On Sept. 10, New York-based Hindenburg Research released a research report calling Nikola an "intricate fraud" and outlining what it said were instances of the company allegedly misrepresenting its technology and its progress toward developing its trucks.

Nikola has called the report's allegations false, misleading and motivated by the short-seller's desire to damage its stock. The company said it has engaged the Securities and Exchange Commission independently regarding the short-seller's report.

Last month, Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives downgraded shares of Nikola to sell, largely due to the questions over Nikola’s technology and business model.

Nikola recently traded at $27.50, down 6.59%.