Pot Producer Aphria's CEO to Step Down Following Short-Seller Allegations

13 January, 2019, 23:26 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Aphria Vic Neufeld

It did say that Aphria's CEO Vic Neufeld, and Co-founder Cole Cacciavillani were both nearing the end of their five-years with the company and would transition out of their executive roles over the coming months but remain on the Board.

"We welcome the latest executive changes at Aphria which clearly vindicate our short thesis", Quintessential tweeted Friday morning.

The stock lost more than 50 percent of its value after the December 3 report but has since recouped much of that, including a 6.2 percent gain to C$9.25 at 11:15 a.m.in Toronto. "With a new management team the company has a chance to a brighter future and we are accordingly moving on to new projects". Neufeld denies his stepping down has anything to do with the short-sellers report, saying, "It was just time for us to move aside".

But earlier this month, an investigation by financial news outlet Bloomberg put the short seller's claims in question after journalists visited Aphria assets and properties in Jamaica that Quintessential Capital had suggested did not exist. Aphria's newly appointed chairman, Irwin Simon reiterated that and called Neufeld and Cacciavillani "consummate entrepreneurs". They added that following the transition Neufeld and Cacciavillani will continue to act as special advisors to Simon and Ripshtein. 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. He would not quantify how much longer the process will take, but said it would take longer than "days".

This independent committee is making "good progress", and intends to fully address the short-sellers allegations, Neufeld said Friday.

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Revenue for the company's second quarter totaled C$21.7 million ($16.4 million), up from C$13.3 million ($10 million) the quarter before and C$8.5 million ($6.4 million) in the same period past year. Aphria sold more than 1,900 kilogram equivalents of recreational cannabis between the October 17 legalization and November 30.

Aphria's report did not acknowledge the recent announcement of a hostile takeover bid by USA -based retailer Green Growth Brands.

The shares were seen losing an incremental 3.8 percent to $6.33 in premarket trading Friday.

The company said it expects to produce 255,000 kilograms of pot by the end of 2019, up from 35,000 kilograms now, as new facilities come online. The company reported that medical cannabis sales declined marginally from 1,466.2 kilogram equivalents sold in the first fiscal quarter to 1,443.6 kilogram equivalents sold in the second quarter. "The Part IV and V expansions of Aphria One are now complete and awaiting Health Canada approval, while an application for a cultivation license at Aphria Diamond has been submitted and is awaiting pre-cultivation inspection". Year-to-date, APHA has gained 22.67%, versus a 3.25% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

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