- Nikola said it has "been engaged in discussions regarding a resolution" that, if approved, would include a $125 million civil penalty paid over time.
- The deal is contingent on a vote of the SEC commissioners, Nikola said in a release.
- The potential settlement was disclosed during its its third-quarter results that included an adjusted 22-cent loss per share that was narrower than the 28-cent loss expected by analysts.
Embattled electric truck maker Nikola expects to pay a $125 million penalty to the Securities and Exchange Commission under a proposed deal to settle civil fraud charges for allegedly misleading investors.
The company Thursday said it has "been engaged in discussions regarding a resolution" to the probe that, if approved, would include a $125 million civil penalty paid in installments over two years. The deal is contingent on a vote of the SEC commissioners, Nikola said in a release.
"We're looking forward to bringing this chapter to a close with this potential settlement and to focusing with renewed determination on building our future," Nikola CEO Mark Russell told investors Wednesday during a call.
Russell said that amount, which the company has reserved to pay the fine, is its "best estimate" of the civil penalty.
The SEC declined to comment "beyond the complaint/order" and other public documents.
The potential resolution was announced in conjunction with the company reporting its third-quarter results, including an adjusted loss of 22 cents per share that was narrower than the 28 cent loss expected by analysts compiled by Refinitiv.
Nikola's stock, which is historically volatile, jumped by as much as 19.5% Thursday even though the company said its first deliveries of zero-emissions semitrucks to dealers this year would be less than expected. The company also said it might not be able to sell any of those trucks to companies until next year due to a lack of needed parts that are expected to ship separately in 2022.
Nikola said it now expects to deliver up to 25 of its Tre battery-electric semitrucks to dealers and customers this year. That's down from an already lowered forecast announced in August of 25 to 50 units, down from 50 to 100 projected earlier in the year.
The company said it continues to make progress on its semitruck production in Germany and Arizona as well as a sales and service network with dealers that's now in 28 states and more than 130 locations.
"During the third quarter, we continued to execute on our business plan," Russell said. "Validation of the Nikola Tre BEV is progressing, with truck's now being test-driven and tested on public roads."
The SEC opened the investigation after short-seller Hindenburg Research accused the company and its founder and CEO Trevor Milton of lying to investors about Nikola's business and technologies.
D.A. Davidson analyst Michael Shlisky in an investor note Thursday said the potential settlement with the SEC is a "positive, and could open up the stock to new investors."
The SEC probe is separate from a criminal probe by the Department of Justice as well as criminal fraud charges against Milton that were announced in June. A federal grand jury accused Milton of lying about "nearly all aspects of the business" to bolster stock sales of the electric vehicle start-up
Separately, Nikola said it will seek reimbursement from Milton for costs and damages in connection with the government and regulatory investigations. In 2020, Nikola paid about $1.5 million of Milton's legal fees.
– CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this report.