(Bloomberg) -- Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc.’s executive chair resigned following what the company said were death threats and baseless allegations against certain directors, accelerating a planned transition of the troubled electric-vehicle startup’s leadership.
Two additional board members stepped down this week along with Executive Chair Susan Swenson, the company said Thursday in a securities filing. Adam He was appointed to serve as interim non-executive chair.
The startup has been rocked by a fight over control, which veered into the morbid last month when Faraday reported that criticism of current management has escalated to include “threats of physical violence and even death threats.” That contributed to a shakeup under which Swenson was to have left once the company received certain funding as part of a wider overhaul giving more control to a group of dissident shareholders.
That group, known as FF Top Holding LLC and which owns about 36% of the company, issued a statement late Thursday saying it welcomed the departure of the three board members but decried the threats against them.
“FF Top strongly condemns any threats of violence against anyone and looks forward to the persons responsible being identified and brought to justice,” it said. “Following these recent resignations, we look forward to working with the new board of directors and management.”
Faraday said those threats prompted Swenson and the two other board members -- lead independent director Jordan Vogel and Scott Vogel -- to expedite their planned exits.
The directors “cited such threats and their fear that their continued association with the company might heighten the risk to themselves and their respective families as the reasons for their resignations,” it said.
Shares of the company rose 9.6% to close at 71 cents in New York trading Thursday. The stock is down 87% this year.
Faraday last month delayed the launch of its debut electric vehicle until at least next year after having pledged when it went public last year to start production by mid-2022. It cited a need for additional cash as the reason for the postponement.
The company blamed what it called “self-described ‘employee whistleblowers’” and “various individuals and entities who represented themselves as current investors” for making allegations against the board of conspiring to run the company into the ground for their own personal benefit. Those claims were determined to be without merit, according to what it said was an independent external investigation.
FF TOP said in its statement it supports efforts by company insiders and others to hold management accountable.
“We firmly support the right of stockholders, employees and others to make their concerns known to public companies through lawful means,” it said.
Faraday has said it believes the dissident shareholder group is under the influence of co-founder Jia Yueting. He was sidelined in April after an internal probe led by Swenson concluded that managers misled investors on Jia’s day-to-day control and influence.
The Los Angeles-based startup has faced a number of other obstacles, including the resignation of its auditor. The SEC has opened a probe into Faraday’s financial statements.
(Updates with investor group statement from fourth paragraph.)
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