Two of Canada's largest cannabis producers, Tilray and Aphria are joining forces in a reverse merger acquisition the companies have announced. The combined entity will adopt the Tilray name and be instantly positioned for market dominance in the Canada marketplace as well as allowing it to move swiftly into the developing US market should the legal position there change. Tilray and Aphria together control about 17% of Canada's retail marijuana market.
Tilray Stock Jumps
News of the Tilray reverse merger sent its stock soaring as it is expected to create the world's largest cannabis company by revenue. Tilray has a current market capitalization of $1.14 billion while Aphria's is $2.35 billion and the combined companies will have an equity value of around $3.9 billion.
The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2021 under the terms of which Aphria shareholders will own 62% of Tilray's outstanding shares. Based on their current stock prices the reverse acquisition of Tilray will deliver a 23% premium for Tilray shareholders.
The combined company is projected to have revenue of $685 million and the merger is expected to deliver about C$100 million (US $78.4 million) in cost savings within two years of the deal's completion. This is expected to occur as a result of synergies in the areas of cultivation and production, cannabis product purchasing and sales and marketing.
US Easing Marijuana Restrictions
The merger is timely as it strengthens the combined companies position to take advantage of the potential of easing of federal legalization on marijuana use in the US with the election of a Democratic president.
Analysts see reasons for and against the merger. On the positive side Tilray will get financial support while Aphria will now have a partner in German conglomerate Anheuser-Busch that could enable it to gain access to emerging European opportunities. Aphria also recently purchased US beer company Sweetwater Brewing that makes some cannabis infused drinks.
On the negative side, being bigger in Canada may not necessarily be good for Aphria because growing operations and brands are larger than Tilray's while the Canadian provinces want more local growers. This could make consolidation of these top cannabis players problematic.
Canadian cannabis stocks spiked when the country became the first industrialized nation to legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana in 2018 but fell significantly when companies found the market did not support the outsize growth predictions that were made at the time. Shares have battled back recently as hopes for legalization in the U.S. increased after the election. Some commentators are saying that marijuana legalization may get a big push next year mainly due to the fact that governments could really use the tax revenue in the current economic climate.
Jim Cramer on cannabis companies Aphria and Tilray merging