Trump Media suggests illegal shorts are cratering its stock

Katherine Doherty, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK — Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. says an illegal form of short selling might be behind the battering of its stock and it’s asking regulators at Nasdaq Inc. to step in.

The company backing former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social network penned a letter to Nasdaq Chair Adena Friedman asking her to ensure market makers are following rules that prevent “naked” short sales. Trump Media pointed to data that it claims is an indication of “potential market manipulation.”

Trump Media’s stock has lost about half its value after topping $66 a share in the days following a merger that turned it into a publicly traded firm. Among the explanations for the stock’s swoon in recent days has been the company’s scarce revenue and lack of any profit. Skepticism about Trump Media’s business prospects is widespread, as the firm reported just $4 million in revenue last year and a loss of more than $50 million.

That and a valuation north of $8 billion sparked a wave of bets against the stock, including short sales. Investors also have to mull the impact of Trump’s legal woes, which include an ongoing criminal trial in Manhattan.

Short sellers can make a legal profit by borrowing shares from current owners for a fee, selling the stock and then buying the shares back if the price falls. The short seller then returns the borrowed shares to their owner and pockets the price difference.

But selling the stock without actually borrowing any shares — a naked short sale — isn’t allowed. Trump Media says its wants Nasdaq to ensure market makers are following rules that require brokers to disclose their “net short” positions, and prevent the lending of shares that don’t actually exist.


“This is particularly troubling given that ‘naked’ short selling often entails sophisticated market participants profiting at the expense of retail investors,” Trump Media Chief Executive Officer Devin Nunes said in the letter.

The stock closed at $36.38 Friday in New York.

Trump Media said its stock was reportedly “the most expensive U.S. stock to short,” which gives brokers “a significant financial incentive to lend nonexistent shares.” It cited four market participants that it says were responsible for over 60% of the extraordinary volume of the shares traded, including Citadel Securities, Virtu Americas, G1 Execution Services and Jane Street Capital.

The data cited by Trump Media don’t necessarily reflect any unusual activity or indicate any wrongdoing. A Citadel Securities representative rejected Trump Media’s claim and criticized Nunes for trying to “blame ‘naked short selling’ for his falling stock price.” A representative for Virtu declined to comment; the other firms didn’t immediately respond to messages.


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