As Aurora Cannabis Restructures, Co-Founder Steve Dobler to Exit This Month

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Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) co-founder Steve Dobler will step down as president and board director at the end of the month, the company confirmed Tuesday.

In a news release, Aurora executive chairman and interim CEO Michael Singer thanked Dobler for his contributions to the Canadian marijuana company he helped launch in 2014.

"His keen business insight and unparalleled passion for the company will be greatly missed,” Singer said. “Steve's decision to retire and help streamline our leadership team further supports the objectives of our business transformation plan as we remain focused on driving Aurora to become a profitable and robust global cannabis company.”

Dobler currently owns less than 0.5% of the company, according to public filings. In late March, he unloaded a combined 8 million shares at an average price of about $1.03. 

With Dobler exiting, Aurora's board now includes nine directors, seven of whom are independent.

His departure marks the latest high-profile exit for the Edmonton, Alberta-based company, which has made a number of executive and board changes in recent months.

In early February, fellow co-founder Terry Booth stepped down as CEO and the firm slashed 500 jobs while vowing to reduce capital expenditure spending to below $100 million during the second half of 2020.

About two months earlier, chief corporate officer Cam Battley was reportedly ousted from the firm, and the company’s chief of global business development, Neil Belot, also departed.

Shortly after Battley’s exit, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pablo Zuanic characterized Aurora’s senior management structure as “bloated” in a note to investors and called for Booth to step down as CEO. 

In addition to its ongoing executive shuffle, Aurora has made several attempts to transform its business and reduce costs in 2020 as it strives to become EBITDA positive in the fiscal first quarter of 2021.

Last month, the firm said it would make its formal entry into the U.S. market via the acquisition of CBD company Reliva in an all-stock transaction valued at nearly $40 million. Under the terms of that deal, which will add about $10 million in revenue to Aurora’s business, the company issued 2,480,810 common shares to Reliva stockholders at a share price of $15.71. 

Aurora also agreed to $45 million worth of earn-out considerations throughout the remainder of 2020 and 2021, which is payable in Aurora shares, cash or a combination of both.

One week before the deal was announced, Aurora reported better-than-expected 2020 fiscal third quarter financial results, which sent the company’s stock soaring as much as 80% at one point during the May 15 trading day.

The positive earnings report came just days after Aurora executed a 1-for-12 reverse split to avoid being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In its bid to better manage liquidity and move toward profitability, the company has divested a number of notable assets.

Aurora exited its position in Alcanna, Canada’s largest alcohol retailer, at a significant loss earlier this month. In 2018, Aurora spent over $100 million to acquire 23% of Alcanna (formerly Liquor Stores N.A. Ltd.) -- which boasts 231 alcohol outlets and 30 “Nova Cannabis” retail locations -- only to unload its stake to a syndicate of underwriters who scooped up 9.2 million shares for around $20 million.

And in April, the company sold a greenhouse in Exeter, Ontario, for C$9 million, nearly half of the C$17 million it was seeking when it listed the property earlier this year. Aurora also sold a property in Jamaica property for $3.4 million.

According to filings, Aurora has also reported over C$1 billion in impairment charges on the year.


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