Lucid CFO resigns as firm faces Nasdaq 100 exit
Market unimpressed despite both sides emphasising an amicable departure
California EV pure play Lucid has announced that CFO Sherry House has stepped down from her role effective immediately. The automaker says that House is departing “to pursue other opportunities”, but will be available in an advisory role until the end of December to assist in the transition of her duties.
House’s resignation comes amid Lucid’s ongoing struggles to scale production or find significant customer appetite for its vehicles, and only days after the company was flagged for removal from the Nasdaq 100 stock market index in its annual update.
But the firm stresses that her “departure is not the result of any disagreement with Lucid’s independent auditors, Lucid’s board of directors or any committees of the board, and does not relate to any matter of accounting principles or practices, financial statement disclosure, or internal controls”.
Gagan Dhingra, Lucid's current vice-president of accounting and principal accounting officer, will additionally serve as interim CFO while the company begins its search for a new CFO, Lucid says.
“I am confident in Lucid's future and grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to its success to-date," says. House. "There is so much exciting innovation happening at Lucid, and I look forward to watching the company continue to grow and achieve new milestones. It was an honour to work with [CEO] Peter [Rawlinson] and the Lucid team.”
To some extent, House — who joined Lucid in May 2021 following almost four years at Google’s autonomous driving start-up Waymo and can also boast a decade at GM over two spells and five years in both private equity and consulting on her CV — is going to trot out the corporate platitudes. She remains in line, under Lucid’s executive severance plan, a 2023 annual bonus of $215,000, accelerated vesting of just over 220,000 company shares (currently worth c.$915,000), and $12,500 to cover her 2023 tax preparation costs, as well as keeping her company Lucid.
Share price shock
Lucid’s stock took a beating on Tuesday, much more than its woes on Monday after it was announced on Friday that it would drop out of the Nasdaq 100 later this month. It had dropped by only 3.4pc day-on-day by Monday’s close, but was trading down another 10pc at c.$4.15/share on Tuesday.
But, even if Lucid’s free float is out of favour, the company has the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) holding a 60pc stake in the firm. Given the firm has just set up a plant in Saudi Arabia, at present to complete vehicles but with future intentions of full manufacturing — creating jobs in the Kingdom, which is a key concern for the Saudi regime — it seems highly unlikely that the PIF will let Lucid collapse.
Lucid, as well as Saudi EV pure play start-up Ceer, another PIF investment, also represent a relatively low-cost hedge for the Saudis. If the move towards BEVs accelerates — potentially diminishing the price the Kingdom will receive for its oil due to lower global demand — it will hope its EV manufacturing investments can then prove their worth.
Certainly, there is no sign Lucid is worrying too much about belt tightening. In November it brought on Marc Winterhoff as its new COO with a signing-on bonus of $3.35mn, an annual salary of $595,000, a 2024 bonus plan of $535,500 and share incentives worth up to $10mn.
New Fisker faces
Fellow US EV pure play Fisker — which has also been having share price issues but does not have the protection of a Middle Eastern investor with, in practical terms, limitless pockets — is also shuffling its executive team, including a hire from Lucid. Wolfgang Hoffmann has joined the company as country manager for Canada, and Amira Aly has came aboard as VP, sales for the US.
The former comes to Fisker after seven years as president of Indian-owned UK marque Jaguar Land Rover in Canada. Prior to that, he worked for Germany’s Audi in both Canada and the US, and he will oversee the commencement of Canada deliveries of the Fisker Ocean SUV in December.
The latter was previously senior director and head of sales in North America for Lucid. At Fisker, Aly's primary focus will be scaling and accelerating the delivery of Fisker Ocean in the US, where "growth has been particularly pronounced in the final months of 2023 and is projected to increase in 2024", Fisker says.
“I am excited that two seasoned automotive professionals have chosen to help Fisker get to the next level of our expansion,” says CEO Henrik Fisker. “North America is our largest overall market, and I am looking forward to working with Wolfgang and Amira to chart an aggressive sales path in both Canada and the US.”