Once touted as the first “unicorn” in cannabis IPO’s, MedMen Holdings Inc. (OTC: MMNFF) is now struggling to pay vendors. In addition to telling vendors, it wouldn’t be able to pay its bills until February or March, the company has been selling assets and also announced it was laying off employees in November. The Twittersphere was active on the subject as Jason Spatafora @WolfofWeedSt lead the charge by posting several exchanges between unidentified vendors and MedMen executives.
“That’s Shitty News”
One unnamed vendor’s email from MedMen’s Senior Director of Strategic partnerships, Ben Shultz read, “Sorry for the delay. We received our payment schedule from our consultant’s FTI and had them signed off by our CFO. I wish I had better news here, but unfortunately, we don’t have payments scheduled for you in the near term. We are working on longer cash term infusions, but it is unlikely that we will be able to pay off these invoices before Feb/March.” He goes on to write, “That’s shitty news and there’s no sugar-coating it, but I have to be the messenger of bad here. If and when we can allocate funds to pay off our AR, we will be in touch.”
One California vendor suggested vendors consult a lawyer or accountant before accepting stock instead of the money owed by MedMen. Also, not identified.
Josh Shlenker, the General Merchandising Manager wrote to another unnamed vendor, “We’ve employed a financial consultant FTI to help us devise a payment plan strategy to clear outstanding balances and get us caught up as expeditiously as possible.”
It goes on to read, “All I can realistically offer are imperfect solutions and I’ve had to have a lot of frustrating and awkward conversations. FTI is supposed to be reaching out early next week with a proposed solution for you.” It continues with, “I am working on creative arrangements with people who wish to remain in the assortment through this period and I am working to offer them more premium shelf space and trying to find fund to allocate weekly to chip away at the outstanding balances, while still planning to continue to place and receive orders on 45-60 day terms.”
Last week, CEO Adam Bierman spoke to Benzinga and acknowledged the layoffs announced in November, but that was the extent of his remarks regarding the 190 employees given the pink slip. Instead, he dwelled on the real estate choices the company was making. Yet, the company has been selling off its real estate assets (to a business that is closely connected to company executives) and then leasing the property back. Such that shareholders are really not benefiting from these assets. There was no discussion of financial difficulties.
Bierman’s point was the locations that MedMen is choosing will result in more sales. His thesis is that locations located near airports draw the tourist crowd. However, choosing a dispensary near the airport in Vegas, versus one on the strip seems like an odd choice for consumers. (Editors note: GMR visited the Vegas MedMen dispensary during the MJ Biz conference in December and it was largely empty. NuWu ( billed as the world’s largest dispensary) was very busy with customers, as was Planet 13 and Reef Dispensaries had a line that snaked outside the door.)
No, It’s Not Bankrupt
Short-seller Grizzle.com added fuel to the fire by blasting a headline that asked, “Did MedMen Just Go Bankrupt?” It hasn’t and the general consensus is that cannabis companies can’t declare bankruptcy. According to the U.S. Courts, “All bankruptcy cases are handled in federal courts under rules outlined in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.” Since cannabis is still federally illegal, it is suspected that the court would reject such a filing. Granted, many of these cannabis companies have complicated business structures where potential parts of the company that isn’t plant-touching could file to reorganize, but that remains to be seen or tested.
Setting up payment plans doesn’t necessarily mean a company is out of money, but with a retail business, the end of the year is typically when a company is flush with cash from holiday sales. So, not being able to pay bills at a time when there should be extra revenue coming in is cause for concern. Retailers like Wet Seal, The Limited, Eastern Outfitters and BCBG all filed for bankruptcy in February of 2017 after the holiday season. Demonstrating that this isn’t an uncommon time for retailers to call it quits.
Still, there’s the issue of total reported liabilities of $671 million as per the quarter ending in September. The revenue for the quarter was $43.9 million. This is a fairly lopsided situation. The next earnings report is on February 26, 2020.
Challenges In The C-Suite
MedMen has faced a lot of criticism since it has gone public. The company first came under fire when the May 2018 IPO disclosed the generous pay for Bierman and Co-founder Andrew Modlin, who recently purchased an $11 million home in Hollywood, despite the financial struggles of the company. The IPO also gave the founders the majority of the voting shares causing another outcry.
The company’s proposed acquisition of Pharmacann was terminated in October 2019, one bonus though is that MedMen received some Illinois licenses out of the deal. The company also took this moment to announce that Zeeshan Hyder has been appointed Chief Financial Officer at MedMen. Mr. Hyder, had been MedMen’s Chief Corporate Development Officer. Hyder succeeded Michael Kramer, who apparently was terminated as of October 7, 2019. Kramer was only just hired in December of 2018 and he followed the previous CFO James Parker who only lasted a year and a half. CFO James Parker resigned in 2019 and then followed with a scathing lawsuit that laid bare a great deal of dirty laundry.
More Ugly Rumors
If the vendor payment issues weren’t enough to scare investors, others on the Spatafora twitter feed suggested that the company had sold pesticide tainted cannabis and another said that MedMen was experiencing harvesting issues and was only selling other company’s products. None of this has been substantiated and could be sour grapes from ex-employees, however, if it is true it is troubling.
The stock was lately trading at 57 cents, down from its 52-week high of $3.84. Yahoo Finance lists the company’s market cap at $120 million. The founders have agreed to salary cuts and have relinquished a large portion of their voting rights in an effort to appease its creditors.
MedMen has not responded to a request for comment.