Shares of Lordstown Motors have surged as much as 25% Thursday on the electric vehicle maker's decision to appoint former Icahn Enterprises CEO Daniel Ninivaggi as its new chief executive officer and board member.
The move comes just two months after former CEO Steve Burns and CFO Julio Rodriguez stepped down amid doubt over the number of orders placed for the startup's marquee vehicle, the Endurance pickup truck.
"I believe the demand for full-size electric pickup trucks will be strong and the Endurance truck, with its innovative wheel hub motor design, has the opportunity to capture a meaningful share of the market," Ninivaggi said in a statement. "With an absolute focus on execution, I look forward to working with the talented Lordstown management team, our suppliers and other partners to bring the Endurance to market and maximize the value of our assets."
According to an Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Ninivaggi will receive an annual salary of $750,000 and an annual bonus with a target of 125% of his base pay. He will also be entitled to receive an award of 700,000 stock options, which will vest over the next three years.
Lordstown's chairman of the board CEO search committee, David Hamamoto, praised Ninivaggi for his "broad automotive background, track record, strategic thinking, and team-oriented leadership talent."
"His capital markets expertise and investment proficiency will be invaluable in navigating the company through its commercial ramp-up, capital allocation and growth phase, "Hamamoto added. "We unanimously concluded that he has the optimal combination of skills and public company experience to lead Lordstown Motors at this time."
Ninivaggi, who currently serves as board chairman for Garrett Motion Inc, a leading supplier of turbochargers and other propulsion products, previously oversaw Icahn Enterprises' automotive aftermarket service network and and parts distribution business. In addition, the 57-year-old has also held a series of executive-level roles at Lear Corporation, Federal Mogul Holdings Corporation, Motorola Mobility, Navistar International, Hertz Global Holdings and CVR Energy.
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Following the resignations, Lordstown's board appointed Angela Strand to serve executive chairwoman during the CEO transition period. She will continue to serve as non-executive chair going forward.
Lordstown, which has acknowledged that it had no firm orders for its vehicles, has been fighting to raise additional funding after warning earlier this year that it does not have enough cash to start commercial production on the Endurance. Limited production of the vehicle is slated to begin next month.
In addition, the company has disclosed receiving two subpoenas from the SEC, seeking documents related to the company’s merger with special purpose acquisition company DiamondPeak and its vehicle preorders. The matters are being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Strand said earlier this month that Lordstown expects to complete vehicle validation and regulatory approvals in December and January. The first deliveries to a select group of customers should begin in the first quarter of 2022, she added, with commercial deliveries expected early in the second quarter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report