Aurora Continues Buying Binge With Anandia Laboratories In C$115 Million Deal

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACBFF) has signed a binding term sheet to acquire all the shares of private company Anandia Laboratories Inc. in an all-stock transaction valued at C$115 million.

Anandia Labs is led by cannabis expert Jonathan Page, Ph.D., the company’s CEO and Co-founder. Dr. Page was the first scientist to sequence the cannabis genome and provide deep insights into the biosynthesis of cannabinoids and the interplay between cannabinoids and terpenes.

Anandia’s intellectual property includes the exclusive rights to a number of key genes in the cannabinoid pathway, as well as patents pending for genetic markers. According to a company statement, Anandia’s expert staff, proprietary assets, and know-how will provide Aurora with a very significant advantage in developing new cannabis cultivars. The statement said, “For instance, genome-based variety development and technological fortification can tailor metabolite (cannabinoid and terpene) profiles, improve disease resistance, enhance crop yield and optimize flowering time, and can be employed to develop specialized cultivars for oil production.”

Management Comments

“This is a transformative acquisition that expands our science capabilities in the upstream segment of the seed-to-sale cannabis value chain, significantly boosting plant-based innovations in cultivation, enabling accelerated product development, and, ultimately, enhancing our margin profile going forward,” said Terry Booth , CEO of Aurora. “Anandia has a fantastic, complementary corporate culture and some of the best and brightest minds in the cannabis industry, including Dr. Jonathan Page , the first scientist to sequence the cannabis genome. By adding Dr. Page and the Anandia team to the existing Aurora and CanniMed research infrastructure, we are assembling a unique, world-class research group to capitalize on the many exciting opportunities the cannabis plant offers society.”

Dr. Jonathan Page, Anandia’s co-founder, and CEO added, “Anandia is already on its way to developing a world-leading library of cannabis genetics coupled with in-depth genomic analysis. We expect our breeding efforts to be accelerated through access to Aurora’s financial resources and scientific expertise, as well as through the addition of Aurora’s multiple cultivation sites. Anandia and Aurora are strong believers in research and science-based solutions. Joining forces with Aurora allows us to continue to provide best-in-class testing services to our customers, while rapidly advancing cannabis science for the benefit of patients, consumers and growers.”

Testing To Stay Separate

Anandia’s cannabis testing services will remain operationally independent of Aurora. Anandia said that it will continue to service its customers with regards to testing and that it would maintain data confidentiality. Anandia also said that it will continue to build capacity to take on the increased sample volume arising from legalization, including expansion to its new testing facility in Vancouver. Anandia was named the Top Testing Lab at the 2017 Lift Canadian Cannabis Awards.

Aurora Acquisitions

Aurora has been on an acquisition binge this year. It has signed deals with CanniMed Therapeutics, MedReleaf, BC Northern Lights and has ownership stakes and numerous companies like The Green Organic Dutchman and Hempco.

Aurora Cannabis stock on the Toronto Exchange was lately trading at C$8.92, down from its 52-week high of C$15.20, but above the year’s low of C$2.03. While the acquisitions are believed to be important as the company builds market share, some traders have voiced concerns that the deals have pushed the company’s break-even point far into the next year. This would explain the pressure placed on the stock price.

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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