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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Troubled EV company Lordstown Motors gets $400M lifeline in stock-sale agreement – TechCrunch

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Five weeks after Lordstown Motors issued a warning that it might not have enough funds to bring its electric pickup truck to market, a hedge fund managed by investment firm Yorkville Advisors has agreed to buy $400 million worth of shares over a three-year period, according to a regulatory filing posted Monday.

The tumult within Lordstown Motors, which has resulted in the resignation of its CEO and CTO, has put the company’s at risk of failing. This new agreement could allow Lordstown to continue as a going concern by providing much needed capital required to produce its first electric vehicle. If approved by shareholders, hedge fund YA II PN will be able to purchase 35.1 million shares, or about 19.9% of outstanding shares.

The capital provides a life line to Lordstown, which has struggled in recent months. The hedge fund, which is able to buy the shares at $7.48 a share, could also benefit financially if the stock price rises.

Lordstown Motors is an offshoot of the now former CEO Steve Burns’ other company, Workhorse Group, a battery-electric transportation technology company that is also publicly traded. Workhorse holds a 10% stake in Lordstown Motors.

The Ohio electric automaker was founded in 2019, and within a year, reached a deal to merge with special-purpose acquisition company DiamondPeak Holdings Corp., with a market value of $1.6 billion. The company had planned to begin production of its Endurance pickup truck starting in the second half of 2021, at the former GM Assembly Plant in Lordstown, Ohio.

Those plans have faltered and a series of missteps and allegations of fraud have compounded the company’s problems.

In March. 2021, Hindenburg Research, the short-seller firm whose report on Nikola Motor led to an SEC investigation and the resignation of its founder, said it had taken a short position on Lordstown Motors. Hindenburg said at the time that its short position was based on a company that has “no revenue and no sellable product, which we believe has misled investors on both its demand and production capabilities.”

Hindenburg disputed that the company booked 100,000 pre-orders for its electric pickup truck, a stat shared by Lordstown Motors in January. The short seller said that “extensive research reveals that the company’s orders appear largely fictitious and used as a prop to raise capital and confer legitimacy.”

Two months later, Lordstown reported in its first-quarter earnings that production volumes of the Endurance would likely be half — from around 2,200 vehicles to just 1,000 — due to a lack of funding.

Lordstown execs dug themselves into a deeper hole by attempting to calm investors a day after its CEO and CTO resigned with statements that they had binding orders from customers that would fund limited production of its electric pickup truck through May 2022. The company retracted those statements within days.

The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are separately investigating the company.

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