TerrAscend Terminates CEO, Reports 134% Net Sales Growth in 2020


Global cannabis firm TerrAscend Corp. has fired CEO and executive chairman Jason Ackerman.

Current board chair Jason Wild, the president of JW Asset Management and a lead investor in the New York-headquartered marijuana company, has taken over as executive chairman and will lead TerrAscend while a new CEO is identified.

In a news release, Wild cited “differences in philosophy over management style and culture” as the reason for Ackerman’s dismissal.

“The Board and I decided it is in the best interest of the Company for us to part ways,” he said. “We wish him the best in all his future endeavors.”

During a call with investors, Wild stressed that Ackerman’s termination was not related to TerrAscend’s underlying performance over the last year.

“Things are going very well,” he said. “Jason’s exit has nothing to do with the success of the business or how we have been executing.”

Ackerman, who founded and led online grocer FreshDirect, was installed as TerrAscend’s permanent CEO last April after serving in an interim capacity for 2.5 months.

While he was at the helm, Ackerman oversaw 134% net sales growth and adjusted EBITDA of $60 million versus a loss of $27 million in 2019.

“Please don’t take it as an indication that there is anything lurking beneath the surface,” Wild added, noting that TerrAscend is “not in any rush” to identify a replacement for Ackerman.

Instead, the company will lean on its “deep bench” of executives — including CFO Keith Stauffer, chief legal officer Jason Marks and Ilera Healthcare (acquired by TerrAscend) chief Greg Rochlin — while it searches for a new CEO.

“I don’t have any doubt that these guys are going to continue to execute,” Wild said.

TerrAscend also announced its 2020 financial results and issued 2021 guidance on Tuesday.

After more than doubling net sales in 2020 — growing from $67 million in 2019 to $157 million last year — TerrAscend said it expects to grow 84% and reach $290 million in net sales in 2021.

“TerrAscend’s 2021 outlook is driven by the Company’s emphasis on organic growth through expansion in high-quality, limited license markets while continuing to maintain tight control on costs,” it noted in a release.

2020 highlights included closing a $120 million term loan, securing a $20 million loan from Canopy Growth and receiving a medical marijuana permit in New Jersey.

The company also acquired Maryland-based grower processor HMS Health from Curaleaf, and opened a fifth Apothecarium dispensary in California.

Meanwhile, TerrAscend expanded its “State Flower” cultivation facility in California in late 2020, and its craft flower capacity is expected to increase by 500% this year.

It is also recently raised more than $178 million from four large U.S. institutional investors, Including Wasatch Global, and is preparing for the ability to up-list onto a major U.S. stock exchange when permissible. The company also “anticipates becoming a U.S. filer with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission by the end of 2021.”

Additional information is available in TerrAscend’s full news release, available on its website.

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