NEWS BRIEF

Canadian pension fund unloads some cannabis shares, adds Aphria

A large Canadian pension manager unloaded some marijuana investments over the past couple of years while raising its holdings in licensed producers Aphria and Aurora Cannabis, according to regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP) filings show that the pension manager did not shy away from adding cannabis stocks to its portfolio despite the young sector’s high volatility.

PSP – one of the country’s largest managers of pension investments – halved its stake in Canopy Growth between 2018 to 2020. The board held 232,249 Canopy shares at the end of 2020, about 50% lower compared to the same period in 2018.

The fund had about 170 billion Canadian dollars ($135 billion) of net assets under management as of March 2020. PSP invests funds for the pension plans of Canada’s public service and military, among others.

The Montreal-based manager eliminated its position in cannabis producer Hexo Corp. last year after accumulating roughly 607,400 shares in 2019.

Other producers fared better.

Since the end of 2018, PSP added 282,786 Aphria shares, bringing its total to 836,586 shares by Dec. 31, 2020.

PSP also added to its Aurora Cannabis holdings.

PSP added about 1 million Aurora shares between the end of 2018 and May 2020, when Aurora’s reverse stock split came into effect.

Since then, the pension manager nearly doubled its Aurora position to 514,612 shares.

The Pension Investment Board added almost 100,000 shares of Cronos Group, its only other cannabis producer stock, between 2018 and 2020. PSP held 518,383 Cronos shares at the end of 2020.

The board’s marijuana investments were worth $35.3 million at the end of 2018, but that had fallen to $19.3 million as of Dec. 31, 2020 – largely reflecting the high degree of volatility experienced by publicly traded cannabis companies.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s sovereign wealth fund dumped the cannabis-related stocks from its portfolio.

A year ago, Seoul-based Korea Investment Corp. (KIC) held a modest $8 million in cannabis-related investments.

However, in 2020 KIC dumped all of the shares it had held in Aurora, Canopy and Cronos.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].

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