Eyeing Profitability, Acreage Holdings Continues to Scale Back
Acreage Holdings, Inc. is continuing to trim back its operations.
On Monday, the New York-based multistate operator announced the sale of additional non-core assets in North Dakota and Massachusetts as it seeks profitability.
In a press release, Acreage said it had divested undeveloped real estate on the island of Nantucket, in Massachusetts, and sold a medical marijuana dispensary in North Dakota.
The North Dakota location -- which previously operated under Acreage’s “Botanist” banner -- reopened today as Pure Dakota Health, according to the state’s Division of Medical Marijuana.
“With the transfer of ownership, all eight dispensaries across the state will be operational again,” North Dakota Division of Medical Marijuana director Jason Wahl said via a release.
A purchase price was not disclosed.
Acreage shuttered the North Dakota Botanist dispensary in early April, at the time characterizing the closure as temporary. Simultaneously, the company furloughed 122 employees, and closed operations in Maryland, Iowa, California, Oregon and Washington.
It also canceled a $120 million deal to acquire Nevada’s Deep Roots Medical, LLC, and terminated an agreement to purchase a medical marijuana dispensary in Rhode Island.
The company's continued retrenchment efforts are intended to help it become EBITDA-positive this year, something other major cannabis firms are also working toward.
And like other large cannabis companies that have introduced revitalization plans – including Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, and Cresco Labs, among others -- Acreage believes that focusing on “key, profitable operations” will “lead to immediate margin improvement.”
In its release, Acrease said the “strategic shift” stemmed from “significant changes in capital markets” and was intended to help the company weather what it described as forthcoming “historic pressure on consumer sentiment and regional and national economic uncertainties.”
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. cannabis operators has been profound, at a time when the industry was already reeling from decreased access to capital, legislative uncertainty, and the illicit-market vaping crisis that struck our industry by association,” Acreage CEO Kevin Murphy said.
“We are supremely confident our plan will ensure operational profitability and excellence and position us to deliver improved shareholder returns in short order,” he added.
Recall that Acreage struck a $3.4 billion deal with Canopy Growth Corporation last year that gives the Canadian-based cannabis firm the right to acquire 100% of Acreage whenever marijuana becomes federally legal in the U.S.
Both companies have faced significant financial headwinds since the deal was announced and taken drastic steps to achieve profitability.
For its part, Acreage said it plans to incur upwards of $100 million in pre-tax charges for the quarter ending March 31, 2020.
A press release with additional information is included below.
Acreage Announces Operational Update to Drive Improved Margins and Returns
NEW YORK, May 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Acreage Holdings, Inc. (“Acreage” or the “Company”) (CSE: ACRG.U) (OTCQX: ACRGF) (FSE: 0VZ) today announced the sale of certain non-core assets as part of an update to its overall strategic plan to focus on key, profitable operations. The Company expects this shift in focus will lead to immediate margin improvements and accelerate its pathway to achieve positive pro-forma adjusted EBITDA for the full year 2020.
The strategic shift is a direct response to significant changes in capital markets, and in anticipation of continued historic pressure on consumer sentiment and regional and national economic uncertainties. In addition to the sale of some non-core and other under-performing assets, Acreage intends to operate with a more optimized overhead cost structure and corporate team to adapt to an ever-changing cannabis landscape.
Kevin Murphy, Chairman and CEO of Acreage, commented: “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. cannabis operators has been profound, at a time when the industry was already reeling from decreased access to capital, legislative uncertainty, and the illicit-market vaping crisis that struck our industry by association. Led by a nimble operating team and Board of Directors that has proven its ability time and again to adapt and thrive in challenging times, we are supremely confident our plan will ensure operational profitability and excellence and position us to deliver improved shareholder returns in short order.”
Based on anticipated potential operational changes, the Company expects to record a pre-tax, non-cash charge of $80 to $100 million in the quarter ending March 31, 2020. The Company expects to report improved margins in 2020 through additional operational optimization efforts, accelerating its pathway to profitability to achieve positive pro-forma adjusted EBITDA for the full year 2020.
To date, Acreage has already taken the following actions in support of this new focused strategy:
- Massachusetts: Divested undeveloped real estate in Nantucket
- North Dakota: Divested Acreage North Dakota, LLC, which operated one medical cannabis dispensary
Headquartered in New York City, Acreage is a vertically integrated, multi-state operator of cannabis licenses and assets in the U.S. Acreage is dedicated to building and scaling operations to create a seamless, consumer-focused branded cannabis experience. Acreage debuted its national retail store brand, The Botanist in 2018 and its award-winning consumer brands, The Botanist and Live Resin Project in 2019.
On June 27, 2019 Acreage implemented an arrangement under section 288 of the Business Corporations Act (British Columbia) (the “Arrangement”) with Canopy Growth Corporation (“Canopy Growth”). Pursuant to the Arrangement, the Acreage articles were amended to provide Canopy Growth with an option to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares in the capital of Acreage, with a requirement to do so, upon a change in federal laws in the United States to permit the general cultivation, distribution and possession of marijuana (as defined in the relevant legislation) or to remove the regulation of such activities from the federal laws of the United States (the “Triggering Event”), subject to the satisfaction of the conditions set out in the arrangement agreement entered into between Acreage and Canopy Growth on April 18, 2019, as amended on May 15, 2019 (the “Arrangement Agreement”). Acreage will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity and to conduct its business independently, subject to compliance with certain covenants contained in the Arrangement Agreement. Upon the occurrence or waiver of the Triggering Event, Canopy Growth will exercise the option and, subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain conditions to closing set out in the Arrangement Agreement, acquire (the “Acquisition”) each of the Subordinate Voting Shares (following the automatic conversion of the Class B proportionate voting shares and Class C multiple voting shares of Acreage into Subordinate Voting Shares) in exchange for the payment of 0.5818 of a common share of Canopy Growth per Subordinate Voting Share (subject to adjustment in accordance with the terms of the Arrangement Agreement). If the Acquisition is completed, Canopy Growth will acquire all of the Acreage Shares, Acreage will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Canopy Growth and Canopy Growth will continue the operations of Canopy Growth and Acreage on a combined basis. For more information about the Arrangement and the Acquisition please see the respective information circulars of each of Acreage and Canopy Growth dated May 17, 2019, which are available on Canopy Growth’s and Acreage’s respective profiles on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. For additional information regarding Canopy Growth, please see Canopy Growth’s profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
This news release and each of the documents referred to herein contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation and "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of applicable United States securities legislation. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, included herein are forward-looking information, including, for greater certainty, statements regarding the implications of the strategic decisions by Acreage, the temporary nature of the operational changes referred to, the timing and implications of deferring the Company’s 2020 financial targets, the on-going implications of COVID-19 and the proposed transaction with Canopy Growth, including the anticipated benefits and likelihood of completion thereof.
Generally, forward-looking information may be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “proposed”, “is expected”, “budgets”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases, or by the use of words or phrases which state that certain actions, events or results may, could, would, or might occur or be achieved. There can be no assurance that such forward-looking information will prove to be accurate, and actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking information. This forward-looking information reflects Acreage’s current beliefs and is based on information currently available to Acreage and on assumptions Acreage believes are reasonable. Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of Acreage to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information. Such risks and other factors may include, but are not limited to: the future implications to the business, financial results and performance of the Company arising, directly or indirectly, from COVID-19, the ability of Acreage and Canopy Growth to satisfy, in a timely manner, the conditions to the completion of the Acquisition; the likelihood of completion of the Acquisition; other expectations and assumptions concerning the transactions contemplated between Acreage and Canopy Growth; legal and regulatory risks inherent in the cannabis industry; risks associated with economic conditions, dependence on management and currency risk; risks relating to U.S. regulatory landscape and enforcement related to cannabis, including political risks; risks relating to anti-money laundering laws and regulation; other governmental and environmental regulation; public opinion and perception of the cannabis industry; risks related to contracts with third-party service providers; risks related to the enforceability of contracts and lack of access to U.S. bankruptcy protections; reliance on the expertise and judgment of senior management of Acreage; risks related to proprietary intellectual property and potential infringement by third parties; the concentrated voting control of Acreage’s founder and the unpredictability caused by Acreage’s capital structure; risks relating to the management of growth; increasing competition in the industry; risks inherent in an agricultural business; risks relating to energy costs; risks associated to cannabis products manufactured for human consumption including potential product recalls; reliance on key inputs, suppliers and skilled labor; cybersecurity risks; ability and constraints on marketing products; fraudulent activity by employees, contractors and consultants; tax and insurance related risks; risks related to the economy generally; risk of litigation; conflicts of interest; risks relating to certain remedies being limited and the difficulty of enforcement judgments and effecting service outside of Canada; risks related to future acquisitions or dispositions; sales by existing shareholders; and limited research and data relating to cannabis. A description of additional assumptions used to develop such forward-looking information and a description of additional risk factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from forward-looking information can be found in Acreage’s disclosure documents, including the Acreage’s management information circular dated May 17, 2019 filed on May 23, 2019 and Acreage’s Annual Information Form for the year ended December 31, 2018 filed on April 29, 2019, on the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com. Although Acreage has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. Readers are further cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking information as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions or expectations upon which they are placed will occur. Forward-looking information contained in this news release is expressly qualified by this cautionary statement. The forward-looking information contained in this news release represents the expectations of Acreage as of the date of this news release and, accordingly, is subject to change after such date. However, Acreage expressly disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable securities law.
Neither the Canadian Securities Exchange nor its Regulation Service Provider has reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of the content of this news release.