Canopy Growth Changes Acreage Holdings Deal, CEO Murphy Is Out

Canopy Growth Corporation (NYSE: CGC) and Acreage Holdings, Inc. (OTCQX: ACRGF) stunned markets when the two companies agreed to an unusual deal in 2019. The agreement was that when cannabis was legalized in the U.S., Canopy would buy Acreage. It was called the “triggering event” and was originally valued at $3.4 billion. The price has dropped considerably.

A lot has changed since then and now the deal has changed accordingly.  Acreage shareholders will now get an initial up-front payment of $37.5 million in connection with the modification of Canopy Growth’s rights, including the extension of the term, and give Acreage shareholders the ability to participate in upside potential upon the Triggering Event.

In addition to that CEO Kevin Murphy is resigning from the company.

Deal Changes

These are the major changes to the deal as outlined by the companies:

  • Canopy Growth will pay Acreage shareholders and certain convertible security holders an aggregate of $37.5 million (approximately $0.30 per Existing Share on an as-converted basis), with the final amount to be received by each holder determined based on the number of Existing Shares into which all of the eligible securities are convertible at the close of business on the record date for the distribution.
  • Acreage shareholders’ new Fixed Shares, each of which represents 70% of an Existing Share, will be entitled to receive 0.3048 of a Canopy Growth Share, representing a premium of approximately 120% to the June 24, 2020 closing price of the Existing Shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
  • Acreage shareholders will be entitled to participate in the long-term value created by Acreage, and in the U.S. cannabis industry generally, as a result of the Floating Shares which Canopy Growth may acquire in the future upon the occurrence or waiver of the Triggering Event at a price based upon the 30-day volume-weighted average trading price of the Floating Shares on the CSE relative to the trading price of the Canopy Growth Shares on the NYSE at that time, subject to a minimum of $6.41 per Floating Share.
  • There will be a creation of two new classes of shares in the capital of Acreage with each existing Acreage subordinate voting share (an “Existing Share”) being converted into 0.7 of a Fixed Share and 0.3 of a Floating Share (with proportionate adjustments for the existing proportionate voting shares and existing multiple voting shares)

CEO Murphy Out

Mr. Murphy has resigned as CEO but will continue to act as Chairman of the board of directors of Acreage and contribute to the strategic direction of the company. He is listed as owning 10% of the company’s stock. Director Bill Van Faasen, former Chairman, CEO, and President of The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will serve as Acreage’s Interim Chief Executive Officer until a permanent replacement has been identified.

“On behalf of the entire Acreage Board, I sincerely thank Kevin for his passion and commitment to building a leading cannabis enterprise across the United States,” said Douglas Maine, Chair of the Acreage Special Committee. “Kevin is a visionary entrepreneur and positioned Acreage for success in the U.S. cannabis industry. As we move forward with a renewed commitment by Canopy Growth and build upon the vision for the U.S., we are optimistic about the long-term growth prospects for our shareholders.”

“I am excited about this New Agreement and the creation of a pre-eminent and truly global cannabis company upon the occurrence of the Triggering Event. I believe the eventual federal permissibility of cannabis in the United States is inevitable and this New Agreement continues to allow our shareholders to become a part of a leading cannabis company following such changes. Moreover, as the largest shareholder of Acreage, I believe this New Arrangement allows all Acreage shareholders to participate in potential upside to their investments through the fixed exchange component of Canopy Growth stock and importantly the new Floating Shares” said Kevin Murphy, Chair of the Acreage Board.

Canopy Loans Acreage $100 Million

In connection with the New Agreement, Canopy Growth has agreed to loan a wholly-owned subsidiary of Acreage (“Acreage Hempco”), up to $100 million pursuant to a secured debenture.  Canopy Growth will loan Acreage Hempco an initial $50 million on and subject to completion of the New Arrangement.  The remaining $50 million will be subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions by Acreage Hempco. The Debenture will bear interest at a rate of 6.1% per annum.

The United States is going to be a core market for Canopy Growth and this New Agreement solidifies our path forward with Acreage,” said David Klein, Chief Executive Officer of Canopy Growth. “I am excited to bring our relationship with Acreage back to center stage in our U.S. strategy and look forward to a time when the laws in the United States permit us to finalize this transaction as we march toward bringing our exciting beverage products to the US.”

Acreage Tumbled Quickly

Eyes were raised recently when Acreage announced that it agreed to a short term loan with an interest rate of 60%. Those terms rattled shareholders. That type of loan is akin to a payday loan and means the company must have really needed the money badly if it was willing to take those terms. The loan is secured by the company’s cannabis operations in Illinois, New Jersey, and Florida, as well as it’s U.S. intellectual property. If it can pay back the loan, In the event of default, the company is further obligated to pay to Lender an additional fee of $6 million.

Acreage was already selling assets and laying off employees after the company overextended itself in trying to become the largest cannabis company in the country. Acreage said it expects to record a pre-tax, non-cash charge of $80 to $100 million in the quarter ending March 31, 2020.

Canopy Growth’s Troubles

While Acreage has been struggling to right its ship, Canopy isn’t in much better shape. The company announced declining revenues and massive losses for the fourth quarter ending March 31, 2020. The net revenue in the quarter dropped by 13% sequentially to $107 million as the company blamed lower Canadian recreational revenue. Canopy Growth also delivered a staggering net loss of $1.3 billion in the quarter which was attributed to impairment and restructuring charges.

Debra Borchardt

Debra BorchardtDebra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the CEO, Co-Founder, and Editor-In-Chief 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 Masters degree in Business Journalism from New York University.


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