Monday, 17 June, 2019

Aphria CEO and company co-founder to step down

Vic Neufeld has been CEO of Aphria since 2013 but will soon step down from an executive role at the company Vic Neufeld has been CEO of Aphria since 2013 but will soon step down from an executive role at the company
Jean Garcia | 13 January, 2019, 23:26

The stock plunged about 23 percent December 3 after two short-sellers deliberated on what they see as red flags at the company.

The Leamington, Ont. -company also announced Friday that co-founder Cole Cacciavillani will also leave his current role as vice-president growing operations in the coming months, but both he and Neufeld will remain on the board. "But to be brutally honest the journey has also taken a toll on health, family and personal priorities", Neufeld said. GGB says it's offer values Aphria at $11 per share or $2.8 billion at the time of the announcement and would be an all-stock transaction.

The leadership transition comes after short sellers Hindenburg Research and Quintessential Capital Management sparked a plunge in Aphria's shares last month after alleging the company bought assets at inflated prices from insiders.

"Vic and I have worked tirelessly for decades, building great businesses, but now in our sixties, it is time for both of us to step back from the demands of leading a world-class organization", Mr. Cacciavillani said in a statement. "With a new management team the company has a chance to a brighter future and we are accordingly moving on to new projects".

The NYSE-listed shares of Aphria shares, which plunged to an all-time intra-day low of $3.75 December 6, have since recovered and closed Thursday's session down 3.09 percent at $6.58. Neufeld said on Friday that an independent committee of directors with no relationship to Green Growth will review any formal offers. However, QCM didn't respond to BNN Bloomberg's inquiries to verify if the hedge fund had fully withdrawn its short position on the company. Aphria's newly appointed chairman, Irwin Simon reiterated that and called Neufeld and Cacciavillani "consummate entrepreneurs".

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On Friday, Aphria also reported results for its second quarter.

Quintessential previously said Aphria's stock was worth zero, accusing the company of being a "shell game with a cannabis business on the side". It posted a net adjusted loss of $9.5 million compared to a gain of $1.5 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Aphria reported a 63-percent year-over-year jump in net revenues to CAD$21.7 million ($16.4 million), thanks to adult-use sales following the approval of recreational marijuana in Canada.

Aphria sold about 1,900 kilograms of legal recreational cannabis in the quarter and 1,466 kilograms of medical marijuana, the company said. "As expected, gross margins declined, reflecting lower effective selling prices in the adult-use market, as well as temporarily lower yields and higher production costs in the quarter as we moved aggressively to build out production facilities and implement new automation processes". The average selling price fell to $6.54 per gram, from $7.12 per gram in the prior quarter.

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