Trump Media merger partner loses board member days before pivotal shareholder meeting

The Truth social network logo is seen displayed behind a woman holding a smartphone in this picture illustration taken February 21, 2022.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

A South Florida real estate executive has quit the board of Digital World Acquisition Corp., the blank-check company that agreed to take former President Donald Trump’s media company public, according to a securities filing Wednesday.

Justin Shaner, the CEO of Shaner Properties in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, resigned from DWAC’s board of directors Friday, the filing said.

The move came days before DWAC’s shareholder meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 22. DWAC’s CEO, Patrick Orlando, has adjourned the meeting multiple times in recent months as he seeks shareholder approval to delay his company’s merger with Trump Media and Technology Group, which owns the Truth Social app, by about a year.

The DWAC-Trump Media deal is being investigated by federal prosecutors and regulators. Will Wilkerson, a former Trump Media executive, turned over documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission and filed a whistleblower complaint, claiming misrepresentations by the companies.

DWAC will likely liquidate if the merger deadline isn’t delayed by early December.

Shaner didn’t immediately return a request for comment, nor did DWAC. “The resignation of Mr. Shaner did not result from any disagreement with the Company concerning any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices,” DWAC said in Wednesday’s filing.

Shaner was a board member on another Orlando-run blank-check company, Benessere Capital Acquisition Corp., which is also under investigation by federal authorities in connection to probes into DWAC. In June, Benessere and some of its directors were subpoenaed by the SEC and a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York, according to filings.

Benessere said in October that it would liquidate after a merger deal with another company, eCombustible Energy, fell through. Benessere had said the SEC’s probe delayed its registration statement, according to securities filings. Trump Media has also blamed regulators for the delay of its merger with DWAC.

Shares of DWAC fell 16% to $21.29 Wednesday, the day after Trump announced he would run for president in 2024. The stock is well off its high for the year, $101.87, which it hit in March.

Trump himself is under federal criminal investigation, while his main business, the Trump Organization, is on trial in New York.

He founded Truth Social after he was banned from Twitter for his posts on Jan. 6, 2021, when hundreds of his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol in an ultimately failed attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. New Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk has said he would let Trump back on the social network, where the former president had about 88 million followers. He has about 4 million followers on Truth Social.

– CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this report.

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