December 1, 2023
Nikola CFO resigns after six months amid EV market volatility

Dive Brief:

  • Anastasia “Stacy” Pastorik will step down from her post as CFO of embattled electric vehicle maker Nikola after serving six months to take the top financial seat at aviation company Universal Hydrogen, according to releases and filings from both companies.
  • Pastorik will remain as CFO for the Phoenix, Arizona-based EV maker until December 1 and assist in the transition to the role, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. She will begin her role at Universal Hydrogen, a company focused on enabling hydrogen-powered flight, on Dec. 4, according to a Monday press release.
  • “Advancing zero-emission mobility is my personal mission and it is clearly shared by the Universal Hydrogen team,” Pastorik said in a statement sent to CFO Dive about his move to the aerospace company. “As we move forward on that path, we want to ensure that we expand thoughtfully, operate with financial discipline, and allocate capital carefully to maintain our first-mover advantage in the region “

Dive Insights:

As CFO of Hawthorne, California-based Universal Hydrogen, Pastorik will take responsibility for the company’s finance operations, including FP&A, investor relations, treasury and compliance and capital raising, he said in the statement.

Logging a four-year tenure at the EV automaker, Pastorik has held several top executive roles since joining in 2019, most recently serving as its chief accounting officer and its corporate controller before his appointment as CFO Is, according to his LinkedIn profile. CFO Dive previously reported that previous finance chief Kim J. Pastorick stepped into the top financial seat in April following the departure of Brady, who had served as CFO since 2017.

Nikola decided to accelerate the vesting of a total of 113,014 restricted stock units held by Pesteric, which were scheduled to vest over time, in “recognition” of his contributions, the EV maker said in a company filing. In which it was simply noted that Pesterić would depart for other opportunities.

According to the filing, the automaker “expects to complete the search for a replacement in a short period of time.” The company said, in the interim, key financial leadership will go directly to its President and CEO Stephen J. Will report to Girsky.

Pasterik’s departure is the latest blow at the troubled EV maker, which has come under increased scrutiny by the public and the industry this year amid the costly recall of its battery-electric trucks and renewed attention on company founder Trevor Milton. Milton – who resigned from the company in 2020 after facing investor questions regarding Nikola’s exaggerated claims about its production of zero-emission trucks – pleaded guilty last year to fraud in a case related to these claims. But his lawyers have recently argued that he should not face prison time, saying his claims were not “frivolous in spirit”, according to a report in Fortune.

The recall of Nikola’s battery-electric trucks widened the company’s net loss in its most recent quarter, which comes as the EV market faces economic challenges due to increased competition and rising costs.

After an investigation of the trucks’ battery packs, the company issued a voluntary recall for the trucks and announced it would replace the packs with an “alternative solution,” Nikola said in its earnings release for the quarter ended Sept. 30. The recall and related repairs cost $61.8 million, which Nikola accrued as a warranty liability in Q3. Net loss from continuing operations for the quarter widened to $425.8 million, compared to $236.2 million in the prior period in 2022.

Nikola isn’t the only company facing challenges in the EV market; EV charging company ChargePoint saw its shares tumble 38% last week after reporting a drop in revenue and announcing the sudden replacement of both its CEO and CFO, according to a Bloomberg report. The company’s market capitalization fell to about $750 million from its 2021 peak of $11.2 billion, Bloomberg reported, as the company struggled to keep pace with rival Tesla in the US.

Meanwhile, others in the industry are taking steps to capture customers’ attention as companies like Tesla, Rivian and Cadillac prepare to launch new vehicles; Rivian will give customers a free wall charger and a $2,000 installation credit when they purchase an electric pickup truck, Endgadget reports, the offer comes ahead of the launch of Tesla’s Cybertruck.

Tesla is expected to begin deliveries of the highly anticipated truck later this month, but views on the potential benefits of the launch are mixed among industry watchers, with reports pointing to a potential resale fee that has since disappeared. And there are other signs that trucks CFO Dive previously reported that it may not be ready to hit the market just yet — signs that follow an earlier disappointing quarter where price hikes and customer caution hurt Tesla’s Margins have been reduced.

Shares of the EV maker, which is struggling to maintain its role as a major player in the EV sector, also fell after company founder Elon Musk endorsed anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media platform X, leading to the board Members of Tesla asked to fire Musk They are on leave and brands like Disney and Warner Bros. have stopped advertising on the Musk-owned platform, CNN reported.

Nikola did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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