Virgin Galactic’s top lawyer leaves for electric vehicle charging company Volta

  • Michelle Kley joins Volta as Chief Legal Officer
  • William Cooper, partner of Sidley Austin, will be assistant general counsel at Volta

(Reuters) – Volta Inc said on Tuesday that the electric vehicle charging company has hired Michelle Kley, who will step down as senior counsel at Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc, the space tourism company founded by the businessman billionaire Richard Branson.

Kley will join Volta as chief legal officer effective July 20, the company said in a statement. Volta, which operates a network of electric vehicle charging stations, has changed direction after recent exits from its CEO and chairman.

Kley will step down as senior counsel at Virgin Galactic, effective July 19, according to a July 8 securities filing.

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Virgin Galactic did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kley’s departure or who will replace her.

William Cooper, capital markets partner at major law firm Sidley Austin, will join San Francisco-based Volta as associate legal counsel on July 18, Volta said in its Tuesday statement.

A spokesperson for Sidley did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cooper’s departure.

Virgin Galactic is facing a lawsuit filed by a shareholder last year over accounting practices related to its merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in 2019. The company has filed a motion to dismiss an amended version of the lawsuit in April.

SPACs raise funds through initial public offerings to combine with private companies and take them public. They have been the subject of a growing number of disputes from investors in recent years, particularly over alleged accounting shortcomings.

Volta went public through a merger with a SPAC last year.

The company lost two top executives with the resignations of CEO Scott Mercer and Chairman Chris Wendel this spring, according to a March statement.

Vincent Cubbage, who is now Volta’s interim CEO, said in the statement that it was time “to identify new leaders with experience running public companies.”

Besides Cubbage, other recent C-suite hires and promotions at Volta have included Steven Schnitzer as acting general counsel, according to a company statement in June. Volta said in the statement that Schnitzer was appointed after the recent departure of former general counsel Jim DeGraw.

Kley and Cooper will replace DeGraw, working with Schnitzer on a short-term basis, according to a Volta spokesperson.

The spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request Tuesday for additional comment on the departures of Mercer, Wendel and DeGraw.

Read more:

Electric vehicle charging network Volta to go public via $2 billion SPAC deal

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic soars before crashing to earth in NYSE debut

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Sara Merken

Thomson Reuters

Sara Merken reports on privacy and data security, as well as legal affairs, including legal innovation and key players in the legal services industry. Contact her at [email protected]

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