Nikola Corp. said it rejected a slate of director nominees proposed by an entity controlled by founder and former Chief Executive Officer Trevor Milton, who was recently sentenced to prison for fraud.
The maker of electric big rigs received a notice last month from M&M Residual, the Milton-controlled vehicle, declaring its intent to nominate directors at Nikola’s 2024 annual shareholders meeting, according to a statement Friday. The candidates are Cole Cannon, Derek Johnson, Hans Peterson, Paul Southam and Dave Sparks.
Nikola said it opposes the slate because the nominees “have no public company experience, add no skills or experience to the board, and indisputably lack the depth of experience that the current Nikola board members bring.” They also lack expertise in zero-emissions trucking and energy infrastructure, the Phoenix-based company said.
The EV maker plans to disclose its own nominees for the eight-person board when the proxy statement is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Representatives for Milton did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Milton resigned under a cloud from his role as Nikola’s executive chair in September 2020. In December 2023 he was ordered to spend four years behind bars after a jury convicted him of securities fraud and wire fraud for misrepresenting key details about the development of Nikola’s products and technology. Milton also was ordered to pay a $1 million fine.
While he has had no involvement in the company’s daily operations for several years, Milton remains one of Nikola’s biggest shareholders. Last year, he called for leadership changes, urging investors to reject company-backed proposals to reelect directors and allow new shares to be issued.
Nikola’s shares rose 1.5% to about 72 cents at 9:32 a.m. in New York.