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Canopy Considers REIT, Secured Debt to Finance Pot Expansion

Canopy Growth Corp. is looking for ways to fund its expansion into the U.S. and European markets.

(Bloomberg)—Canopy Growth Corp. is assessing ways to raise non-equity financing as the world’s largest cannabis company seeks to expand and become profitable, according to its new chief financial officer.

“We’re going through a process of just digesting the multiple options that we have in front of us, and comparing that to our business plans over the next few years,” Mike Lee said in an interview. “We’re trying to be smart about it and build a capability that can ramp up as we put more fixed assets in place.”

While setting up a real estate investment trust is an option, there are other alternatives including a secured financing, said Lee, who joined Canopy from Constellation Brands Inc. and will become permanent CFO when he receives the necessary security clearance from the Canadian government.

As Canopy considers its financing alternatives, it’s also focused on research and development, global expansion and getting its Canadian business to profitability, he said.

“We’re very clear that when it comes to Canada as a stand-alone business that we expect to be Ebitda positive in the next 18 months,” said Lee, who also wants to see the Canadian operations generate margins similar to consumer packaged goods companies. However, Canopy as a whole will likely generate negative earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the “foreseeable future.”

Canopy reported an adjusted gross margin of 22% in the quarter ended Dec. 31 as it spent to build out new facilities and prepare for edible and beverage products that can’t be sold until later this year.

Canopy needs to fund its expansion into the U.S. and European markets as the legalization of cannabis boosts consumer spending on a variety of marijuana-based products. It’s aiming to have hemp processing facilities in seven American states within the next 12 months, Chief Executive Officer Bruce Linton said last week.

Earlier this year Canopy said it will buy Acreage Holdings Inc. in a deal conditional on the U.S. legalizing marijuana at the federal level. It has also acquired a U.K. skin-care brand to launch a new range of CBD-infused products for global sale. Linton said in February that the company may issue bonds, mortgages or set up a real estate investment trust.

The Smith Falls, Ontario-based company is also closely watching the price of its C$600 million ($450 million) of convertible bonds as they trade well above their issuance level, Lee said.

The 4.25% securities due 2023 are quoted at around C$130, compared with C$100 when the notes were issued a year ago. Canopy’s stock price is about C$57 compared with a conversion price for the bonds of C$48.17. Analysts expect Canopy’s stock to rise further over the next twelve months to about C$75, which may in turn support the price of the convertibles.

While the increase in the company’s convertible debt securities signals that it can reduce its funding costs should it go ahead with new transactions, it can impact its costs in its profit and loss report and increase the liabilities on its balance sheet. That’s because the company records the value of the debt at its market price as required under the fair value accounting method.

“We’ll talk about that during our upcoming earnings release,” Lee said. Canopy is scheduled to report earnings on June 20. “We don’t have any specific plans at this point, but we’re aware that the market price of that bond has increased materially in the last several months.”

--With assistance from Dan Wilchins.To contact the reporters on this story: Esteban Duarte in Toronto at [email protected]; Kristine Owram in Toronto at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nikolaj Gammeltoft at [email protected]; Brad Olesen at [email protected] Jacqueline Thorpe

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