Nikola's strategic partner, Robert Bosch, cut its stake in the electric-truck startup to below 5 percent after a lockup for early investors expired and General Motors downgraded its partnership with the company.
Bosch, the world's largest auto supplier and a top Nikola shareholder, reduced its stake to 4.9 percent, according to a securities filing made public on Wednesday. The German company previously reported a 6.4 percent stake in Nikola as of June 15.
The Phoenix-based startup’s agreement with Bosch to “develop, build, test and support” various components for prototypes, including a fuel-cell system, dates to 2017. Nikola told Bloomberg in September Bosch will supply fuel cells for its planned European-built fuel cell-powered trucks.
Representatives for Nikola had no immediate comment.
A Bosch spokesman in the U.S. said his company trimmed its holding in Nikola after the Nov. 30 expiration of the lockup period.
“Our initial investment was primarily meant to support the development of hydrogen technology. The reduction of some of our shares in Nikola took place after a holding period under stock-exchange regulation,” said Tim Wieland, the company spokesman.
The expiration of selling restrictions on certain Nikola insiders and other early investors such as Bosch freed up a large chunk of shares of its float for public trading. A block of shares equivalent to 1.9 percent of the float traded at the 9:30 a.m. market opening in New York on Tuesday.
That has put further pressure on the company’s already depressed shares following GM’s decision to scale back its relationship with Nikola. GM's reassessment of a tentative deal announced in September has clouded Nikola’s future.
Nikola CEO Mark Russell, who owns shares in the company directly and through an entity called T&M Residual, told Bloomberg he recently agreed to extend a lockup on those shares along with several other unspecified strategic shareholders.
Bosch ranks No. 1 on the Automotive News Europe list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide sales to automakers of $46.55 billion in 2019.