Nikola drops after CEO says company can go it alone, downplays Badger importance

Shares of Nikola (NKLA) are sliding in early trading on Friday after the company’s CEO, Mark Russell, gave interviews in which he was quoted as saying the company has a “base plan” to go it alone if deal talks with General Motors (GM) fall through and attempted to distance the company from the prior statements of its founder, Trevor Milton, regarding the still-in-development Badger pick-up truck. “The Badger was an interesting and exciting project to some shareholders, but our institutional shareholders are mostly focused on the business plan,” Mark Russell told the Financial Times in an interview published on Thursday, adding that the company’s “core business plan since before we became publicly listed always focused on heavy trucks and hydrogen infrastructure.” Talks between the company and General Motors on a proposed strategic partnership are ongoing, but if a tentative technology-sharing and manufacturing deal falls apart, Nikola can revert to a “base plan” without GM’s help, Russell is quoted by Bloomberg as having said.

“We have the ability and we have a base plan of doing it ourselves. If we have a partner, that just enables us to consider going faster and helps reduce the risk. We’ve proven that over the years that we are a partnership company when those things are available to us,” Bloomberg quoted Russell as having said. A GM spokesman declined to comment to either the FT or Bloomberg, both news services stated. In Friday morning trading, Nikola shares have declined $3.03, or 13%, to $20.27.

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