Digital World Acquisition (DWAC), a blank-check company poised to merge with former President Donald Trump’s media company, announced early Wednesday it had terminated its chief executive, Patrick Orlando. The move comes as Trump’s legal challenges approach a critical juncture. DWAC stock fell.
“Due to the unprecedented headwinds faced by the Company, the Board agreed it was in the best interest of its shareholders to select a new management team to execute an orderly succession plan and set strategic operating procedures,” DWAC said in a news release.
Digital World also announced that Eric Swider, a member of its board since DWAC’s IPO, has been appointed interim chief executive.
Also on Wednesday, the Manhattan grand jury expected to discuss the possible indictment of Trump did not meet. The grand jury typically meets on Monday, Wednesdays and Thursday. The New York Times reported that the Wednesday meeting would not occur, citing unnamed sources.
It was unclear whether the Thursday meeting would take place.
The possible indictment of Trump relates to a “hush money” payout to porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump allegedly paid Daniels to suppress her story of an affair with Trump during the 2016 presidential election cycle. The former president has denied Daniels’ allegations.
Shares of Digital World fell 3.7% to 13.13 on the stock market today.
DWAC stock is down around 93% from its October 2021 high of 175. It hit that high just after news of the Trump merger deal broke.
Digital World shares dropped after Trump officially announced he will once again seek the Republican nomination as presidential candidate in 2024. But DWAC stock surged around 70% in early November on news that Trump’s presidential bid was imminent. Shares also rallied 11% on Monday, rising amid a 4.2 million share surge in trading volume.
In October 2021, Trump Media & Technology Group announced a deal to go public by combining with DWAC, via a reverse merger. Trump Media is the parent of the conservative social-media platform Truth Social. The site has been Trump’s primary online conduit. It launched after Twitter shut down Trump’s account following the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
A Trump presidential run in 2024 was widely seen as boosting the potential value of Truth Social and DWAC stock. The impact of an indictment — which would be the first for a former U.S. president — on the two companies and their potential merger, remains unclear.
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