The South Korean Hanwha Group appears to be following Bosch’s example as it wants to reduce – but not end – its stake in the US startup Nikola Motors that specialises in fuel cell and battery trucks.
Bosch and Hanwha had invested 230 million dollars in Nikola in 2019, to the tune of at least 100 million euros each. At the end of 2020, Bosch then reduced its stake in Nikola from 6.4 to 4.9 per cent, according to information from Bloomberg. The financial paper further reports that Hanwha Group even wants to sell off up to half of its shares in Nikola. This could involve 11.05 million shares worth $170 million.
Hanwha has given Bloomberg confirmation that it intends to sell half its Nikola shares. This should occur between 9 June and 10 December, although the South Korean company “might not sell the whole 50%”, a company representative said without saying when they would make a decision.
In autumn 2020, the US short-seller Hindenburg Research accused Nikola of fraud, saying the company was based on an “ocean of lies”. As a result, the company had to admit to some mistakes, and the company’s founder and CEO Trevor Milton stepped down. A billion-dollar memorandum of understanding with General Motors, which would have included the construction of the Badger e-pickup and access to GM’s fuel cell technology, was greatly reduced as a result. Now, Nikola can buy technology from GM, but the group’s participation in the startup is off the table.
Hanwha is a South Korean conglomerate active in financial services, chemicals and solar energy. Hanwha is to supply solar panels to third-party entrepreneurs, and Nikola wants to produce green hydrogen from the electricity generated there. Since this is to be sold at up to 700 filling stations, the Nikola describes Hanwha as an important partner. After the announced partial sale of its shares, Nikola told Bloomberg via email that “Hanwha remains an important strategic partner and continues to play an active role on Nikola’s board of directors.”
Nikola presented its 2020 financial figures at the end of February. The US startup posted a bottom-line loss of $383 million last year. Nikola also plans to send only 100 instead of 600 vehicles into customer testing this year.
Just a few days before this in February, the company announced the details of its fuel cell truck plans in North America, whereby Nikola plans to introduce two FCEV trucks. The trucks will be an FCEV variant of the Nikola Tre Cabover for ranges up to 500 miles (approx 805 km) and the Nikola Two FCEV Sleeper for ranges up to 900 miles (approx 1,450 km).
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