Clover Health shares rebound after Palihapitiya comments on negative report

(Reuters) – Shares in Clover Health Investments Corp ended a seesaw trading session higher on Friday after the first public comment by its backer, venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, on a critical report by short-selling specialist Hindenburg Research.

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Clover said on Friday it would cooperate with an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into the Hindenburg report, which knocked Clover’s price down more than 12% on Thursday.

The selling continued on Friday but a rebound came in late trade after Palihapitiya tweeted that he wished Hindenburg had contacted him or Clover so that it could have evaluated things first hand. He said he will let Clover’s long-term goals and performance speak for themselves.

The stock closed up 5.7% at $12.93.

Clover said the SEC had requested “document and data preservation for the period from January 1, 2020, to the present, relating to certain matters that are referenced in the (Hindenburg) article.”

The insurance firm also disclosed a separate earlier inquiry from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), but added it had not received any civil investigative demands or subpoenas from the department.

Palihapitiya and the company were fully aware of the DOJ inquiry, which it did not consider as “material information” for its earlier disclosures, Clover said.

On Thursday, Hindenburg published a scathing report, the title of which called Clover a “broken business,” and accused the company of not disclosing the DOJ investigation into its business model and its software offering, Clover Assistant.

In a statement on Friday, Hindenburg rejected the idea that the DOJ investigation was non-material, since Clover derives nearly all its revenue from the government. It also reiterated that it does not have a short position in Clover stock or options and will not receive monetary compensation for this work.

Clover said on Friday some of the claims in the report were “completely untrue.” Executives Vivek Garipalli and Andrew Toy said in a separate blog post that the report was “rife with ad-hominem attacks, sweeping inaccuracies and gross mischaracterizations.”

Hindenburg was the first major short-selling research house to publish a new report since the eruption two weeks ago of the battle between short-sellers and retail investors over GameStop Corp and a number of other stocks.

Clover, which sells Medicare-backed insurance plans, went public through a $3.7 billion deal with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) backed by Palihapitiya. Its other investors include Alphabet Inc and Silicon Valley-based venture capital giant Sequoia Capital.

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