A cannabis financial institution led by industry pioneer Sundie Seefried is on its way to going public on the Nasdaq through a $185 million merger that will give the company more money to lend to marijuana businesses.
Seefried’s Safe Harbor Financial announced a definitive agreement Monday to be taken public by Northern Lights Acquisition, a blank-check business also known as a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
In a news release, Seefried said the deal will position Safe Harbor to expand its financial services and support the growth of the cannabis industry.
“Our goal is to become a ‘one stop-shop’ for cannabis business financial needs,” she added.
Under the merger, New York-based Northern Lights, an affiliate of Luminous Capital, will pay $70 million in cash and $115 million in common stock to acquire Safe Harbor, a subsidiary of Colorado-based Partner Colorado Credit Union.
The estimated post-transaction equity value of the company will be $327 million, according to the release.
Northern Lights trades on the Nasdaq as NLIT.
“The acquisition by Northern Lights will allow Safe Harbor to advance its efforts to remain the premier cannabis financial services provider,” Seefried said.
She will serve as CEO of the merged company.
The announcement comes a year after Seefried left her post as CEO of Partner Colorado Credit Union to focus entirely on cannabis banking.
Seefried is nationally recognized for establishing a compliance-based banking program for cannabis businesses.
The announced merger also comes at a time when federal cannabis banking reform is seen as having a better chance of passing in Congress this year, either attached to another bill or as a stand-alone measure.
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The U.S. House recently passed a technology innovation bill called the America COMPETES Act that includes the SAFE Banking Act.
SAFE Banking would allow financial institutions to serve cannabis businesses without fear of federal reprisal.
Safe Harbor was established in 2015 to provide regulatory compliant banking and financial services to the cannabis industry.
The company now has nearly 600 accounts spanning 20 states. Safe Harbor said it has processed $11 billion in transactions to date, including $4 billion in 2021 alone.
Northern Lights co-CEOs John Darwin and Joshua Mann said in a statement that Safe Harbor “is the most compelling opportunity we have encountered in the cannabis industry as both operators and investors.”
The two, who will remain on the board of directors, characterized Safe Harbor as setting the “gold standard” for regulatory compliance.
The transaction is subject to approval by Northern Lights stockholders and other closing conditions.
The boards of directors of Northern Lights, Partner Colorado Credit Union and Safe Harbor already have unanimously approved the transaction.
Jeff Smith can be reached at email@example.com.