U.S. marijuana companies increasingly are turning to cannabis-friendly Canada to go public, with Los Angeles-based MedMen the latest business from south of the border to take the plunge.
The multistate marijuana company debuted Tuesday on the Canadian Securities Exchange under the ticker symbol MMEN. Its stock closed at $4.95 Canadian dollars ($3.85), down 12 cents from the day’s opening price.
MedMen’s listing mimics other U.S. marijuana companies turning to Canada’s public markets to tap easier-to-access pools of capital, including multistate operators iAnthus Capital and Green Thumb Industries.
“The Canadian capital markets have been very embracing of U.S. cannabis entities, ” said Scott Greiper, president of New York-based Viridian Capital Advisors.
“It’s quickly become the preferred capital market for the industry and will continue to be so as long as cannabis has its federally illegal status in the U.S.”
Here’s a quick look at what investors should know about MedMen’s public debut:
1. $1.65 billion valuation, big paychecks
That’s a hefty spike from February, when the firm raised $30 million from a Toronto-based investor for a 3% stake in the company at a valuation of $1 billion – although questions were raised about that figure.
MedMen has yet to turn a profit. Through June 30, 2017, the firm posted sales of $8.4 million and an operating loss of $43.2 million.
Meanwhile, under the company’s new public structure, the top executives will receive a lucrative compensation plan.
CEO Adam Bierman and President Andrew Modlin will each receive a $1.5 million annual salary under a four-year contract.
They will also receive $10 million in redeemable MedMen units, based on share price, and $30 million in units carved out for a long-term incentive plan that will vest over two years.
If MedMen’s valuation at any time exceeds $2 billion, Bierman and Modlin will each receive a $4 million cash bonus.
2. Reverse takeover gaining fans in cannabis sector
MedMen is the latest cannabis firm to pursue a reverse takeover (RTO) in its course to go public. RTOs allow companies to go public without launching an initial public offering of its shares – the traditional route for most firms.
In MedMen’s case, the firm brokered a deal to take over Vancouver, British Columbia-based Ladera Ventures – a shell company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange.
Reverse takeovers are considered to be cheaper and faster than pursuing a full-on IPO, although snags can arise.
In MedMen’s case, the firm initially pursued an RTO with Toronto-based OutdoorPartner Media in early April.
3. ‘Apple Store’ of cannabis
MedMen employs 800 workers at 18 licensed facilities in California, Nevada and New York.
The company “seeks to replicate the Apple Store model” in its bid to win over customers with sleek, customer-centered retail shops, the firm disclosed in an April regulatory filing.
“We are making marijuana mainstream by making it okay for soccer moms and middle-aged professionals to use cannabis products,” Modlin said in a news release.
“We are marching steadily toward a future where buying and using cannabis products will be just as normal as buying wine or beer.”
Earlier this year, the company also launched a joint venture with Cronos Group, a Canadian medical cannabis producer, manufacturer and distributor in Toronto.
Lisa Bernard-Kuhn can be reached at email@example.com