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Who is Mark Russell, the latest billionaire owner of Nikola’s hydrogen trucks

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Nikola Motor’s first week of listing – marked by a 104% surge last Monday and followed by a 24% drop over the next two days – increased founder Trevor Milton’s fortune and created another billionaire: CEO of hydrogen truck startup Mark Russell.

Russell, who was president and coo of industrial conglomerate Worthington Industries, before joining Nikola in February 2019, held shares and options in the Phoenix-based company worth just over $ 1.3 billion (as of June 12) , as estimated by Forbes. Milton, who is Nikola’s largest shareholder, ended the week with a net worth of $ 7 billion. Shares hit $ 64 on the Nasdaq in trading on Friday.

Backed by investors including private equity heavyweight Blackstone Group, ValueAct and European commercial vehicle maker CNH Industrial, Nikola’s listing on the Nasdaq this month (via a reverse merger with VectoIQ) is Wall Street’s boldest debut. for a high-tech transportation startup after Tesla’s. The company expects billions of dollars in revenue from the sale and rental of futuristic trucks and pickups that emit no exhaust fumes. At the moment, however, the company has practically not yet recorded revenues.

Potential competitor to Elon Musk’s Tesla in electric trucks (which he’s suing for design infringement), Nikola raised about $ 600 million prior to his Nasdaq listing to proceed with production of hydrogen trucks at a Coolidge plant , Arizona. Initially, the company will produce Nikola Tre articulated trucks built in collaboration with CNH’s Iveco unit in Germany for sale in Europe and the US in 2021. The company is also preparing to announce a separate manufacturing alliance with an automotive company. to produce his fuel cell Badger pickup.

Russell became Nikola’s CEO this month, following the reverse merger with VectoIQ, while Milton moved to the role of executive president. Nikola’s founder, who dropped out of college in his freshman year, briefly worked for Russell in Worthington, who provided early stage funding for Nikola. Russell was also a mentor. “I dreamed of turning Trevor into a corporate executive – a dream that lasted as long as he was in college,” Russell told Forbes in a 2019 interview. Milton said in an interview that he needed a helping hand. expert to help build and run her startup and recruited Russell as Nikola’s president last year. Mark Russell retains that title as well as being CEO.

Nikola has truck orders worth $ 10 billion from companies like Anheuser-Busch, which wants 800 of its non-polluting giants. The company estimates that sales will rise from $ 150 million in 2021 to $ 3.2 billion by 2024 as production increases. In 2024, Nikola plans to sell or lease 7,000 battery-powered units and 5,000 hydrogen fuel cell trucks, according to a document filed with the SEC. The company could raise an additional $ 700 million between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, according to the filing. It could also issue debt in 2023 and 2024 totaling $ 500 million. The construction of hydrogen charging stations for its trucks, which will produce clean fuel from water and renewable electricity, will reach nearly $ 1 billion from 2022 to 2024.

Fuel cell technology, which produces electricity in a chemical reaction involving hydrogen and oxygen with only water vapor as a byproduct, has been around since the 1960s, but previous approximations were too expensive and not durable enough for heavy daily use.

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