Nikola’s bid to increase shares stalls after failing to get enough shareholders to vote

Nikola failed to get enough investors to vote on a proposal that would allow the beleaguered electric truck company to issue more shares — and, in turn, raise more capital.

Nikola adjourned its annual meeting of shareholders Wednesday until July 6 in an attempt to secure the requisite number of votes needed to add shares to the marketplace. Nikola needs to secure more than 50% of all outstanding shares to vote in favor of the proposal, which is a higher bar than other proposals would need to reach.

The failure comes at a pivotal time for the company. Nikola said it’s only weeks away from the initial commercial production of its hydrogen fuel cell electric truck. Without the approval of this proposal, production could be delayed or scrapped, the company said in a statement.

Like many electric vehicle startups that went public via merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Nikola’s stock has taken a free fall since its debut. The company received a delisting warning in May from the Nasdaq because its shares were trading below $1 for 30 consecutive trading days. Adding more shares could help Nikola regain compliance and raise enough capital to support future growth.

There is a downside; issuing more shares could decrease the value of existing investors’ shares. Nikola shares closed at $0.59 on Wednesday.

Getting that many votes is a hard feat to accomplish for a company like Nikola with a high proportion of retail investors. EV startup Lucid Motors, another startup with a large number of retail investors, also had to extend the deadline of a 2021 shareholder vote so that it could garner enough support to merge with SPAC Churchill Capital IV.

Over the past few weeks, Nikola has basically been begging shareholders to vote for this proposal. The company will likely continue to put out the good word in the lead up to the July re-vote.

This is not the first time Nikola has tried to increase authorized shares. Last year, the company boosted the number of shares from 600 million to 800 million, but it had to adjourn the annual shareholder meeting three times in order to collect enough votes.

Nikola says it needs to increase shares now so it can start production of trucks at its plant Arizona in the fourth quarter and fulfill its 178 confirmed orders of fuel cell trucks. If successful, these would be the first commercially produced Class 8 fuel cells in the U.S., said CEO Michael Lohscheller in a fireside chat with investors.

The company also needs additional capital in order to pay interest that was due May 31 on a $200 million loan from hedge fund Antara Capital.

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