The Nevada-based cannabis superstore Planet 13 Holdings (OTC: PLNHF) announced that it has signed an option to potentially buy out its social equity partner in Illinois. The company said it has reached a deal with Frank Cowan, who owns 51% of Planet13 Illinois, to gain a controlling interest. If exercised, Cowan would receive $866,250 in cash and 1,063,377 common shares of Planet 13 valued at $2 million based on a 5-day VWAP. He would also face restrictions on when he could potentially sell those shares.
“We are pleased to enter into this agreement with our partner to give us the option to assume full control of the Illinois dispensary upon receipt of regulatory approvals. Frank Cowan has been a pleasure to work with, and we look forward to continuing that partnership,” said Bob Groesbeck, Co-CEO of Planet 13. “As a limited-license state, Illinois remains a premier cannabis marketplace, and this opportunity creates value for all Planet 13 stakeholders. This is another example of us acquiring a dispensary at a very reasonable price. Our prudent approach to M&A is one of the reasons we have no debt and such a robust balance sheet.”
Social Equity Applicant
Cowan was the recipient of 185 new licenses issued by the state in an effort to combat corporate cannabis and give an opportunity to those from areas that had been hurt by the war on drugs. However, the costs to enter the cannabis industry are high and many of these social equity applicants rely on partnerships with well-funded companies to see the opportunity to come to fruition. Crain Chicago wrote about Cowan at the time saying, “‘They didn’t find me. I found them,’ Cowan says of Planet 13. He was already planning to apply for a retail license when he went to Las Vegas for a boxing match two years ago. While he was there, a friend who knew an acquaintance of Planet 13 co-founder Larry Scheffler arranged a tour of the company’s just-opened store near the Las Vegas Strip.”
Crain Chicago reported that “Planet 13 wants to make a splash here, building something akin to its flagship store in its hometown of Las Vegas, which tops 100,000 square feet, with high-tech entertainment including interactive laser displays, LED floors and a graffiti wall. The company will be looking for a high-traffic location in the Chicago area, not a blighted neighborhood.”
To Sell or Not to Sell
The article says that at that time Cowan said he was in no hurry to sell. “I plan to have some type of part in Planet 13. I want to make sure we have representation in an industry that has little minority representation.” Yet, Scheffler made it clear at the time what his plans were. The article said that Scheffler stated Planet 13 would eventually want to acquire majority control so the company could incorporate the financials into its results. “It’s got to be fair to him,” he says.