For the marijuana industry, last week was fairly eventful. The individual happenings weren’t necessarily momentous, but they matter in a business that in many ways is still finding its way to success.
We can break them down into two categories — fund raising and executive shifts — and there were several instances of both.
It’s time for some cannabis capital raising
Three cannabis businesses, three different new sources of funding.
Last week Aphria (NYSE:APHA), HEXO (NYSE:HEXO), and Cresco Labs (OTC:CRLBF) all announced they had secured fresh capital. Aphria and HEXO did it through the sale of stock, while Cresco Labs signed on the dotted line for credit.
The equity guys also differed in how said stock was handed out. Aphria is accepting a 100 million Canadian dollar ($76 million) cash infusion from an institutional investor that, for some reason, wasn’t revealed. In exchange, Anonymous New Stockholder is receiving slightly more than 14 million Aphria “units”, each of which contains one share of common stock and one warrant to buy half of a share in the future.
HEXO closed a direct stock offering, in the latest in a series of share sales. This one brought in gross proceeds of $20 million. Like Aphria, HEXO packaged shares and warrants together. The score for HEXO was nearly 12 million shares, and warrants carrying the right to buy almost 6 million more.
Finally, Cresco Labs went the borrowing route. It obtained a senior secured term loan credit facility for up to $200 million; as much as $100 million will be drawn down by the company at the end of this month. Each of the draws on this credit, provided by a syndicate of lenders which were not individually identified, will have a term of 18 or 24 months. Interest rates start at roughly 12.7%.
Although it’s good news for all three that they’re getting some new, badly needed capital, there are significant downsides, too. The share counts of both Aphria and HEXO have ballooned over the years. Dilution often spooks would-be investors from buying a company’s stock, and discourages current shareholders. Cresco’s new credit, meanwhile, bears interest rates that — while not unusual for pot companies — are onerous nevertheless.
The week after Tilray brought in a new CFO and COO saw high-level personnel moves in two of the cannabis company’s peers.
On the arrivals side of the platform we have Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), which named its next board chair and brought on a new director. In line with other recent human resources changes at the company, these two people are connected with Canopy Growth’s leading investor, alcoholic drinks specialist Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ).
The new chair is existing board member Judy Schmeling, while the new arrival is Constellation marketing executive Jim Sabia. Schmeling, by the way, takes over as chair from David Klein, the recently installed CEO of Canopy Growth. No prizes for guessing what company Klein formerly worked for — that’s right, Constellation, where he was CFO. So it looks very much like the booze specialist continues to tighten its grip on the company.
Switching to the departures end of the building, Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) divulged in a regulatory filing the resignations of both chief operating officer David Hsu and chief commercial officer William Hilson. This was uncomfortable news to begin with, compounded by the fact that these exits had officially taken place weeks before Cronos got around to announcing them (both resignations were effective Dec. 31, 2019).
The Constellation-ization of Canopy Growth can be beneficial, as the so-called Cannabis 2.0 market in Canada is currently underway (although the company isn’t quite as ready for it as many had hoped). The big shareholder can bring much expertise and help to the weed-infused drinks segment of that market.
The developments at Cronos are more troubling, since not one but two top executives are departing, and the cannabis company wasn’t immediately forthright about this development. Cronos hasn’t, by the way, publicly named replacements yet.