Lordstown Motors shares surge on appointment of ex-Icahn exec as CEO

The Lordstown Motors Corp. Endurance electric pickup truck sits on stage during an unveiling event in Lordstown, Ohio, U.S., on Thursday, June 25, 2020.

Matthew Hatcher | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of Lordstown Motors surged Thursday after the embattled electric vehicle start-up named Daniel Ninivaggi, a longtime automotive veteran and former leader of Icahn Enterprises, as its new CEO.

The volatile stock was up by as much as 41.4% in intraday trading before leveling off to about $6.40 a share, an increase of 16.2% Thursday afternoon. The stock has ranged from a low of $4.77 a share to as high as $31.80 a share during the past 52 weeks.

The appointment of Ninivaggi, whose experience prior to working for billionaire Carl Icahn was largely in automotive suppliers, is effective immediately, the company said. He will retain his position as chairman of auto supplier Garrett Motion, according to a Lordstown spokeswoman.

“The Board is enthusiastic about Dan’s appointment as CEO. We are impressed with his broad automotive background, track record, strategic thinking, and team-oriented leadership talent. Furthermore, his capital markets expertise and investment proficiency will be invaluable in navigating the company through its commercial ramp-up, capital allocation and growth phase,” David Hamamoto, chairman of the Lordstown Board CEO Search Committee, said in a statement.

Ninivaggi, 57, replaces company founder Steve Burns, who left the automaker in June following an internal investigation finding “issues regarding the accuracy of certain statements regarding” Lordstown’s preorders, specifically the seriousness of the orders and who was making them.

The internal probe was prompted after claims made by short seller Hindenburg Research that Lordstown misled investors. The report prompted investigations by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ohio-based Lordstown Motors is yet to produce a saleable vehicle. It expects to begin limited production of its first product, an electric pickup truck called the Endurance, in late September, followed by vehicle validation and regulatory approval in December or January.

Lordstown went public through a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in October. It is among a growing group of EV start-ups to go public or announce plans to do so with SPACs.

Most of the SPAC deals were initially celebrated by investors, sending shares through the roof and making some founders millionaires, if not billionaires, overnight. But the tides have turned against many of the companies after crackdowns this year by the SEC, including investigations, warnings to investors and potential changes to accounting guidelines.

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