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Aurora CEO has stepped down; company cuts 500 jobs.
Terry Booth, the co-founder of one of the world’s highest valued cannabis companies, is retiring. The interim CEO will be executive chairman Michael Singer.
The company also announced “sweeping changes intended to rationalize the cost structure and balance sheet going forward,” which will also “better align the business financially with the current realities of the cannabis market in Canada while maintaining a sustainable platform for long-term growth.”
As we noted in our newsletter during the end of 2019 earnings season, Aurora was not spared what Booth called “distribution and regulatory headwinds.” Then in December, Cam Battley, who had been with Aurora since 2016 and most recently served as chief corporate officer, stepped down. He now serves on the board of directors of MedReleaf Australia.
The company is also cutting jobs. They announced that this includes “close to 500 full-time equivalent staff across the company, including approximately 25% of corporate positions.”
And finally, the company announced two new independent directors: Lance Friedmann, previously an SVP at Kraft Foods, and Michael Detlefsen, managing director of Pomegranate Capital Advisors.
Booth said in a statement, “These changes, along with the financial transformation which we are undertaking, should clearly demonstrate to investors that Aurora has the continuity, strategic direction and leadership it needs to transition from its entrepreneurial roots to an established organization well positioned to capitalize on a global growth opportunity.”
Hemp giant GenCanna files for bankruptcy.
In the announcement, CEO Matty Mangone Miranda said, “While this is certainly not the outcome we desired, the bankruptcy process gives us the ability to move forward in a way that allows us to best continue operations and serve customers as we work through our reorganization, resolve an outstanding legal dispute involving our Western Kentucky facility, navigate an uncertain regulatory environment and adjust our annual operating costs to better match the landscape.”
The reorganization could include, according to the company, a “refinancing of the Company’s existing indebtedness, or an alternative restructuring transaction such as a sale.”
PAX has a new CEO.
The role will be filled by Michael Murphy, who was previously a managing director at AlixPartners, a consulting firm. PAX’s former CEO Bharat Vasan left the company last September.
Connecticut’s legislative leaders announce a legalization bill.
As we reported, Gov. Ned Lamont this week renewed his call for legalization, saying “Like it or not, legalized marijuana is just a short drive away in Massachusetts. And New York is soon to follow,” adding, “I believe that a coordinated regional regulation is our best chance to protect public health by displacing illicit sellers and replacing them with trusted providers.”
Senate President Martin Looney and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz answered the call with a legalization bill, which has been referred to the Joint Judiciary Committee.
Curaleaf joins in on the executive shuffle.
As we’ve covered in our recent newsletters, there have been major executive changes at a number of cannabis companies, from TerrAscend to Charlotte’s Web. The one that made the most waves was the departure of MedMen co-founder and CEO Adam Bierman.
Next up? Curaleaf, perhaps the highest valued cannabis company in the US. And their changes, which coincide with the closed acquisition of Cura Partners, owner of the Select brand, were substantial. Here they are:
• Cura CEO and co-founder Cameron Forni will become Select’s president.
• Jason White will become Curaleaf’s chief marketing officer, a new role for Curaleaf, similar to the role he held at Cura.
• Curaleaf CFO Neil Davidson will now be COO, replacing Stuart Wilcox, who will oversee emerging markets.
• Replacing Davidson as CFO will be Michael Carlotti, who previously worked as a CFO at cannabis company Australis Capital. He was also an SVP at MGM Resorts International.
• Mark Russ will be SVP of sales, and he was previously in a similar role at cannabis company Indus Holdings. He was also a VP at Constellation Brands.
• Joining Curaleaf’s board is Jaswinder Grover, an orthopedic and spine surgeon who founded the Allegiant Institute. Grover replaces Steven Patierno, who will still be chair of the medical advisory board.
Columbia Care’s new independent directors.
The company has named Frank Savage and Jeff Clark. Savage has served on the boards of Bloomberg L.P. (current), the New York Academy of Medicine, and the Institute of Finance, as a former board member of Lockheed Martin, and as Chairman and Trustee Emeritus of Howard University and Johns Hopkins University, respectively. Clarke is executive chairman of FTD, the former CEO of the Eastman Kodak Company, and the former EVP of Hewlett Packard.
Independent board members John Howard and David Solomon will step down and become inaugural members of a newly formed strategic advisory board.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis releases plan to increase number of banks willing to serve cannabis businesses.
This week, Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies announced a “roadmap” focused on guidance for the banking industry wanting to work with the state’s cannabis industry, with the goal of upping the number of banks that will serve the state’s legal cannabis businesses.
Polis was joined by Patty Salazar, DORA’s executive director, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Treasurer Dave Young, and Sundie Seefried, CEO of Partner Colorado Credit Union.
“As the first state to establish a legal marijuana industry and one of the first to implement an industrial hemp program, Colorado has become a national economic leader in the cannabis industry,” Polis said.
“We are excited to release a bold, forward-thinking roadmap to provide much-needed guidance, clarity and support to state-chartered financial service providers that work with or are interested in working with the state-legal cannabis industry.”