Ascend Wellness Archives - Green Market Report

StaffAugust 30, 2021
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Ascend Wellness Holdings, Inc.  (CSE: AAWH.U) (OTCQX: AAWH) announced that it has closed on a $210 million Senior Secured Term Loan with Seaport Global Securities LLC as lead manager. AWH said that it plans to use the proceeds to (i) repay substantially all of its debt excluding approximately $12 million of outstanding acquisition payments with near zero interest rates, (ii) finance the company’s pending investment in MedMen NY, Inc., and (iii) support its future growth and acquisition initiatives.

In March Ascend said it would make an investment of approximately $73 million in MedMen NY Inc. or MMNY. Following the investment, Ascend will hold a controlling interest in MMNY of approximately 86.7% and will have an option to buy MedMen’s remaining interest in MMNY in the future. Also in the agreement, Ascend must also make an additional investment of $10 million in exchange for additional equity in MMNY. This investment will also be used to repay MMNY’s senior secured lender if adult-use cannabis sales commence in MMNY’s dispensaries.

The loan will bear an interest of 9.5% per year, payable quarterly in arrears, with a maturity date of August 27, 2025. The Term Loan is secured by a first lien on all company assets. Subject to certain conditions of the agreement, the company has the ability to increase the facility by up to $65 million if desired. Prior to closing the Term Loan, at the end of Q2 2021, ending June 30, 2021, Ascend had $104.2 million in cash and equivalents.

“I am thrilled to secure this non-dilutive financing which both reduces our overall cost of capital and will fuel the growth of our business as we invest in scaling our strategic footprint. We saw tremendous interest and had healthy participation in the Term Loan. Our marketing process, lead-managed by Seaport Global Securities, introduced us to a very high-quality mix of institutional investors, family offices and hedge funds. We are excited to include this new class of stakeholders into our capital structure via the senior debt financing and look forward to the opportunity to expand our relationship with many of these investors over time in future debt and equity financings.” said Abner Kurtin, Founder and CEO of AWH. “We are actively building one of the most robust networks of retail stores and cultivation facilities in the highest quality markets. With our strong balance sheet and successful track record, we are well positioned to implement our growth strategies to take advantage of the significant market opportunity ahead and drive strong value for our shareholders.”

 


Debra BorchardtAugust 11, 2021
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Following the close of the market on Tuesday, Ascend Wellness Holdings, Inc. (CSE: AAWH.U) (OTCQX: AAWH) reported its financial results for the second-quarter ending in June 2021. Ascend delivered total revenue of $97.5 million which increased 28.5% quarter-over-quarter and 236.2% year-over-year. Net revenue, which excludes intercompany sale of wholesale products, increased 26.1% quarter-over-quarter to $83.4 million. In addition to the solid revenue gains, Ascend said it was increasing its full-year guidance for 2021 from a range of $320 million to $340 million to a range of $330 million to $350 million. This revised range represents growth of approximately 130% to 145% year-over-year.

The company also reported a net loss of $44.9 million during the second quarter and attributed it to a $32.0 million non-cash interest expense related to the company’s initial public offering (“IPO”) completed in May 2021. This non-cash interest expense was largely driven by a $27.4 million charge related to the beneficial conversion feature of the historical Real Estate Preferred Units that converted in the IPO. The loss of $0.30 per basic and diluted common share was compared to a net loss of $48.2 million, or $0.45 per basic and diluted historical common unit, for the prior quarter.

“Our business continues to produce impressive quarter-over-quarter revenue and adjusted EBITDA growth as we scale our wholesale and retail operations across the high-quality markets where we operate,” said Abner Kurtin, Founder and CEO of AWH. “We remain focused on executing, disciplined in our approach to allocating capital, and excited about the trajectory of the Company,” Kurtin added. “As a result, we are pleased to announce that we are increasing our full year net revenue guidance range to $330 million – $350 million.”

Revenue Growth

Ascend said that its revenue growth was driven by increased cultivation and production activity, new store openings, and increased traffic at open stores. The company said in its earnings statement that it plans to keep investing in the build-out and expansion of its cultivation and manufacturing facilities in IllinoisNew JerseyMassachusetts, and Michigan. Additionally, it is actively building out additional dispensaries in MassachusettsNew Jersey, and Michigan.

While the total retail transactions increased 39.4% quarter-over-quarter to approximately 573,000, the average value per transaction declined by 8.6% compared to the prior quarter to approximately $101. Ascend said this was primarily due to geographic and medical versus adult-use patient mix. On the wholesale side of the business, gross wholesale revenue increased to $39.5 million, representing an increase of 30.1% quarter-over-quarter. Net wholesale revenue, after intercompany sales, increased to $25.3 million, representing an increase of 22.9% quarter-over-quarter, which continues to be driven by increased output and pricing at the company’s cultivation facility located in Barry, Illinois. Pound equivalents sold increased 28.2% quarter-over-quarter and 285.3% year-over-year to approximately 11,040 pounds.

 


Debra BorchardtMarch 1, 2021
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MedMen Enterprises Inc. (CSE: MMEN) (OTCQX: MMNFF) didn’t completely sell its New York operations to privately held Ascend Wellness, but it’s pretty close. Last week, beleaguered California-based cannabis operator MedMen signed an agreement with Ascend Wellness Holdings, where Ascend would make an investment of approximately $73 million in MedMen NY Inc. or MMNY. MedMen’s shares jumped over 14% in trading on Friday to lately sell at 48 cents.

Following the investment, Ascend will hold a controlling interest in MMNY of approximately 86.7% and will have an option to buy MedMen’s remaining interest in MMNY in the future. Also in the agreement, Ascend must also make an additional investment of $10 million in exchange for additional equity in MMNY. This investment will also be used to repay MMNY’s senior secured lender if adult-use cannabis sales commence in MMNY’s dispensaries.

“We believe the proposed transaction will bring fresh capital and a new perspective to New York’s medical marijuana program and its patients,” said Abner Kurtin, Founder of Ascend Wellness. Ascend Wellness is a vertically integrated operator with assets and partners in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Ascend produces and distributes Ozone branded products.

Of course, all of this is subject to approval from the New York State Department of Health and other applicable regulatory bodies. The state did not approve of MedMen’s attempt to acquire PharmaCann’s operations in New York back in the day, so nothing is ever certain. That deal was scrapped back in 2019. MMNY will also use Ascend’s services for a management agreement under which Ascend will advise on MMNY’s operations pending regulatory approval of the Investment transaction.

Agreement Terms

The details of the deal say that MMNY will assume up to approximately $73 million of MedMen’s existing secured debt, Ascend will invest $35 million in cash in MMNY, and AWH New York, LLC will issue a senior secured promissory note in favor of MMNY’s senior secured lender in the principal amount of $28 million, guaranteed by Ascend, which cash investment and note will be used to reduce the amounts owed to MMNY’s senior secured lender. 

Cowen & Co. Drops Coverage

Cowen & Co. discontinued coverage of MedMen in December of 2020. In her last report, Vivien Azer wrote, “MMEN delivered $20.7 mm in revenue from its 11operating CA stores, up ~34% QoQ and implying ~$1.9 mm per door in the quarter (implying$7.5 mm per door annualized), which we believe is roughly in line with management targets for CA store sales productivity. Meanwhile, NV sales were up triple digits sequentially(192%) due to the cycling of temporary store closures in the prior quarter. MMEN’s OakPark door in IL was the highest growing of the portfolio and we estimate this door could achieve ~$15 mm in revenue annualized.”

She added, “Despite the improvement, MMEN’s cost structure is still bloated and a heavy debt burden may force management to seek dilutive solutions.” 


StaffFebruary 20, 2019
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Vertically Integrated Cannabis Operator to Enter its Fourth State on East Coast

February 20, 2019 – BOSTON, MA /AxisWire/ Ascend Wellness Holdings (AWH), a multi-state, vertically integrated cannabis operator, today announced that the company secured $37 million in a bridge round of preferred equity and $18 million in a senior secured cultivation note. The $55 million in raised funds will be used to build out market leading operations in Massachusetts, as well as the continued expansion in limited license cannabis markets.

AWH is entering Ohio through an agreement to purchase a tier II cultivation license. It is also in advanced discussions for dispensary licenses. Ohio allowed medical cannabis use in January, and marks AWH’s fourth market. AWH will provide care to Ohio residents for different approved medical conditions, solidifying its commitments to limited license markets.

The capital will also fund construction of AWH’s adult-use flagship store. Located near the famed Faneuil Hall, the five-story building will be the first of its kind to operate within a major East Coast city. During the planning phase, the 16,000-square foot project garnered widespread support among the Boston community and state leaders. AWH is also building a 9.5 acre cannabis cultivation facility, called MassGrow. Located in Athol, Massachusetts, the campus is expected to produce 15 million grams of cannabis annually.

“AWH is excited to close on funding that will allow us to build out our market leading Massachusetts operations and to enter the newly legalized Ohio market,” said AWH Founder and CEO, Abner Kurtin. “We expect to be operating in all four of our markets by the end of 2019.”

This latest round of funding comes at a time when several Eastern states have legalized cannabis. AWH operates and has assets in Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, an addressable cannabis market of over 40 million people. In its first year, AWH closed over $100 million of total capital, making it among the more well-funded consolidators in the space as it seeks opportunities to expand into other key markets.

For more information about AWH visit www.ascendwellness.com

About AWH AWH is a vertically integrated cannabis company operating in Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. AWH is redefining the cannabis retail experience, offering a customer-centric environment and a curated selection of products with effect-based categorization. AWH will also operate a large-scale indoor cultivation facility in Massachusetts.

 


Debra BorchardtJanuary 16, 2019
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Ascend Massachusetts was awarded the first conditional-use permit for adult-use cannabis retail sales in the city of Boston. The flagship store will be the first adult-use retailer to operate within a major East Coast metropolitan city and is expected to open by the end of the year.

Massachusetts legalized adult use cannabis sales, but it took two years to license operators and open stores. When sales began on November 20, 2018, only two locations had been approved resulting in traffic headaches and customer lines. Still, the state managed to log $7 million in sales in just the first three weeks. A new report by ArcView Research and BDS Analytics projects that cannabis spending in Massachusetts will reach $1 billion by 2022 and that it will be the fifth biggest market in the U.S.

“Ascend Massachusetts is honored to be chosen as the first company awarded a license for an adult-use retail store by the city of Boston,” said Andrea Cabral, CEO of Ascend Massachusetts, which is a wholly own subsidiary of Ascend Wellness. “A core value of our company is to positively impact our neighborhoods and communities. We are proud to have the support of leaders and organizations across Boston and Massachusetts in this endeavor.”

No doubt that support helped sway the approval process.  Ascend managed to get letters of support from State Senator Joseph Boncore (D); State Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D); Boston City Councilors Josh Zakim and Ed Flynn; The Downtown North Business Association; as well as a letter of non-opposition from the West End Civic Association.

The store will be located in downtown Boston close to Faneuil Hall, a site built in 1742 for merchants and where the Sugar Act was protested in 1764 and established the doctrine of “no taxation without representation.” The store will be multi-leveled and designed by the Andrus Group, which has designed stores for Apple, Tesla, and Burberry. The designers noted that the store will combine innovation with education in order to create an engaging in-store experience for shoppers.

James Andrus, principal at The Andrus Group said, “This is a unique project that builds upon our experience in creating highly visited retail locations that serve the needs of tourists, consumers, and the community.”

So far, five retail locations have been approved in the state. There are still about 200 completed applications waiting for the state’s review and approval.

“We are proud of the work that Andrea and her team did to secure and plan our location,” says Abner Kurtin, CEO of Ascend Wellness. “We are gratified by the confidence the City of Boston has in Ascend Massachusetts to create best-in-practice and best-in-class adult-use retail for the Boston community.”

Ascend Wellness is a private multi-state operator located in three states: Illinois, Michigan, and Massachusetts. The Massachusetts CEO Cabral was the Executive Secretary of Public Safety in Massachusetts where she oversaw 14 public agencies. She was the twice-elected Sheriff of Suffolk County and the first female sheriff in Massachusetts’ history.


Debra BorchardtDecember 24, 2018
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Multi-state operator Ascend Wellness is expanding into Illinois through a long-term lease  with Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR) of a cultivation facility that Ascend will operate.  The deal, along with the definitive agreement to purchase HCI Alternatives, will create Ascend Illinois. The deal for an undisclosed amount is expected to close in early 2019.
The company said that the facility is projected to create new jobs and increase supply in the state, where medicinal use of Cannabis was first legalized in 2013, and made available to patients in 2015.
The cultivation facility is located in Barry, Illinois and is 75,000 square foot. It will be one of sixteen cultivators in operation in the state. Ascend Illinois says it will have a unique advantage to lead the state by filling growing patient demands.
“The passing of the opioid bill will lead to significant growth in the Illinois market next year,” said Founder of Ascend Wellness, Abner Kurtin. “Ascend is excited to bring a wide variety of branded product to enhance the experience of the Illinois consumer.”
HCI Alternatives, which is also based in Illinois has two two retail facilities in Springfield and Collinsville, as well an online cannabis educational resources website. HCI’s current customer base captures about 10% of the total market share in the state.
“We are gratified to be part of Ascend Illinois,” says Chris Stone, HCI’s CEO. “Illinois, like the rest of the country, has been plagued by the opioid epidemic, to which cannabis provides a safer and non-addictive alternative to pain management.”

Earlier this month, Ascend announced that it has raised $40M. The company has been developing licenses in three populous eastern U.S. states: MassachusettsMichigan, and Illinois. Combined, they create the largest market east of the Mississippi, which is equivalent in size to California or Canada, two of the most profitable cannabis regions in the world.

The companies that invested in Ascend include some of the biggest names in cannabis investing like Poseidon Asset Management, Salveo Capital, JM10 Partners, and Shire Capital Advisors. The company said proceeds from the capital raised would be used to build out locations in these markets and acquire future assets.

Ascend Wellness currently has plans for three high-end, licensed adult-use cannabis retail locations in three metro-area Boston locations. Additionally, the company has plans to develop a significant retail presence throughout these emerging markets as it solidifies itself as a leading U.S. cannabis operator.


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