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The investment firm run by liberal billionaire George Soros was a major investor in a now-bankrupt electric bus company that was heralded by the Biden administration as the future of green transit, and lost as much as $105 million in the two years since the company went public, according to a Daily Wire analysis.
Soros Fund Management was one of the earliest investors in Proterra — when the company went public in June 2021 the fund owned 7.75 million shares of the company, an investment worth over $132 million dollars, according to legally required quarterly disclosures. The stock price of the electric bus company has only fallen since then, and while Soros initially bought an additional 220,000 shares of the company in the final quarter of 2021, he offloaded shares in every quarter since as news of the company’s shortcomings spooked investors.
An analysis of the firm’s position in Proterra based on quarterly disclosures since June 2021 found that Soros already lost up to $105 million on Proterra entering the current quarter, during which the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Even if the fund managed to sell off stock at its highest price each quarter, it would have lost over $68 million, the analysis found.
The liberal billionaire and Democrat Party financier’s bet on Proterra appeared promising in its early stage. The company received significant support from the Biden administration, with the president taking a tour of one of Proterra’s electric battery facilities in April 2021, and declaring that companies like Proterra were going to help the United States “own the future.” The tour came in the wake of Biden’s $1.9 trillion infrastructure plan, which included a $5 billion allocation towards electric school buses, one of Proterra’s main products.
The infrastructure plan wasn’t the only piece of legislation that the company stood to gain from. Proterra’s Chief Legal Officer JoAnn Covington noted that the Inflation Reduction Act would also benefit the company through tax credits and new funding sources for electrical vehicle manufacturers. She also stated that the law will ”open up opportunities to accelerate adoption of battery-electric and zero-emissions vehicles to all the other commercial segments on the cusp of being electrified.”
Biden later went on to appoint Proterra CEO Gareth Joyce to the President’s Export Council, which advises the President on international trade, in February 2023. But the ties between the administration and Proterra run even deeper.
Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm previously sat on the board of Proterra and held up to $5 million in stock options in the corporation, prompting U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) to request a review of a potential conflict of interest in a letter sent to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Energy. She divested from her stake in the company in May 2021 amid the concerns — a financially fortunate turn of events given its complete collapse. Granholm is facing calls from conservative groups to resign due to “ethical lapses” regarding the investment.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) compared the administration’s promotion of the company to the Obama administration’s Solyndra scandal, and predicted that the company could turn out to be an even “worse” investment.
“President Biden’s decision to heavily promote a business where his energy secretary holds a multimillion-dollar stake has all the potential to be even worse than Solyndra,” Cruz said in April 2021.
The company’s collapse came as its buses failed to perform across the country. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for example, $24 million worth of Proterra buses were taken off the road after it was discovered that their electric batteries didn’t provide enough power for the buses to complete their routes. The heavy batteries were also reportedly cracking the bus chassis, leading to safety concerns. Another one of Philadelphia’s Proterra buses caught on fire in November 2022 — fires have also occurred on the company’s electric buses in Connecticut, and California.
It is unclear whether Soros’ firm still owns any Proterra stock, which at the time of this writing is valued at just 8 cents a share. The firm’s most recent filing shows that it still owned 2.3 million shares at the end of June, when the company was trading at $1.20 a share. At its current price, the once-promising investment would be worth just about $200,000.
Proterra is now facing mounting shareholder lawsuits, which allege that the company “made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose” financial information that affected share prices.
Soros Fund Management did not respond to a request for comment.