Will Fisker’s investors sue?

When I first saw the headline for Reuter’s detailed Fisker story, I thought (sigh) does the world need yet another investigative piece on electric car maker Fisker? We published our tome back in mid-April. But the Reuters article actually lays out some of the most disturbing evidence that Fisker was painting two very different pictures to investors and the Department of Energy, and also could potentially provide fodder if Fisker’s investors plan to sue the company (a lone investor already sued over this back in February 2012).

Essentially the article lays out that for about a year — from the Summer of 2011 to the Summer of 2012 —  Fisker’s finances were unraveling, and while the DOE was informed of this, the company’s investors appear to not have been aware of Fisker’s financial problems, at least according to the Reuters report. If you believe that, then the next question is naturally: did Fisker’s executives and board twist the story intentionally to its investors, or unintentionally?

Ray Lane's Fisker KarmaWe already know that Fisker’s access to much of the DOE was loan was cut off in mid 2011, but that Fisker didn’t publicly acknowledge this until February 2012. But Reuters reports that Fisker told the DOE it was nearly broke in October and December of 2011, but was telling investors at that same time that Fisker’s value was at almost $2 billion, with a planned annual sales of more than $12 billion.

Reuters reports that in a December 14 letter to shareholders, Fisker told investors that the company’s $2 billion capitalization included $720 million in private equity (which had been spent), the total $529 million DOE loan (even though Fisker only accessed $192 million before being cut off) and a $700 million value on the Delaware plant (which was idle and that number was 30 times its purchase price).

And again in August 2012, Fisker painted a different story to investors than it did to the DOE, reports Reuters. Fisker was down to $12 million in cash, and the DOE recommended an emergency sale. But in an investor presentation in August 2012, Fisker didn’t mention its low cash or the DOE’s recommendation while it was attempting to raise $150 million in equity by September 2012.

The Reuters piece has some other eye-brow raising financial tidbits like:

  • Fisker was losing $35,000 on each Karma made.
  • Founders Henrik Fisker and Bernard Koehler were making $600,000 to $700,000 a year.
  • In the Spring of 2011 Fisker spent $100,000 on a grand prix party on a yacht that was attended by the Prince Albert Monaco.