U.S.-based cannabis producer Green Growth Brands Inc. made a formal offer to Aphria Inc. shareholders to acquire the company Tuesday, nearly four weeks after the Ohio company originally announced plans for the bid.
shareholders 1.5714 shares of Green Growth stock for each outstanding Aphria share. The all-stock deal would value Aphria at roughly C$2.8 billion, according to Green Growth’s math, which values its own shares higher than the market does.
Green Growth previously said it would raise C$300 million through a stock sale at the C$7-a-share valuation that it claims in the bid. Green Growth said Tuesday it has received a commitment from an investor for C$150 million of that investment.
The bid for the company opens Wednesday, and will remain open until May 9, Green Growth said. Green Growth said it owns 3 million shares of Aphria already, about 1.2% of Aphria’s outstanding shares.
When Green Growth first announced its intentions to purchase the Leamington, Ontario-based company on Dec. 27, Aphria said that the bid “significantly undervalues” the business, and noted that the company had not received a formal offer. Aphria did not respond to requests for comment on the bid Tuesday afternoon.
Green Growth — which is backed by the Schottensteins, an Ohio family that has built their fortune in the retail business — declined to comment further or make executives available for an interview.
Regulators in Canada halted both stocks at roughly 4 p.m. Eastern time, but Aphria’s U.S.-listed shares continued to trade. Aphria’s U.S.-listed shares rose after the halt, but calmed back down in after-hours trading after the news became known. Green Growth stock rose 6.9% in the regular session.
If Green Growth’s bid to buy Aphria were successful, it would mean significant changes for existing Aphria shareholders. The Toronto Stock Exchange, or TSX, and the New York Stock Exchange — the two exchanges that list Aphria shares — do not allow companies that violate federal regulations to list stock. Because Green Growth operates illegally under U.S. federal law, it’s likely that the stock would only trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange — as Green Growth does now — and over the counter in the U.S.
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Aphria stock plummeted last year after short sellers Quintessential Capital Management and Hindenburg Reseach released a report that described Aphria as a “shell game” and accused top executives of enriching themselves at the expense of shareholders. CEO Vic Neufeld and co-founder Cole Cacciavillani announced they would leave the company earlier this month, while continuing to deny the accusations.
Weed stocks were mixed Tuesday. Canopy Growth Corp.
rose 1.4%, Aurora Cannabis Inc.
fell 1.4% and Tilray Inc.
dropped 5.7%. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF
fell 0.3% during the regular session Tuesday.