Feb 6, 2019

Aphria chair open to other deals after rejecting Green Growth bid

'We're looking out for shareholders': Aphria rejects bid from Green Growth Brands


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The chairman of Aphria Inc. (APHA.TO) said Green Growth Brands Inc.’s unsolicited all-stock takeover offer significantly undervalues the Canadian pot company, adding that it’s leaving the door open to other potential suitors.

“Price is always a determiner of a lot of factors. On the other hand, if you’re taking someone else’s paper, is their paper better than yours?” Irwin Simon said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Catherine Murray and David George-Cosh on Wednesday. “There’s a big difference between cash and someone else’s paper.”

Simon’s comments come on the same day the Leamington, Ont.-based producer formally rejected Columbus, Ohio-based Green Growth’s bid of 1.5714 of its shares for each Aphria share, stating that there is no guarantee Green Growth would be able to fund the capital requirements of the combined company.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Green Growth Brands said it "continues to believe in the opportunity to combine the two businesses and benefit both groups of shareholders."

Aphria’s stock tumbled in December on the heels of a report from short sellers Quintessential Capital Management and Hindenburg Research but has climbed out of the doldrums after rallying substantially this month. The report accused Aphria of buying a number of Latin American assets at highly inflated prices.

Investors are still waiting for Aphria to publish a line-by-line rebuttal to the report, which Simon said is coming “very, very shortly.”

Simon also indicated that the Green Growth team's heavy focus on retail may not fit well with Aphria’s growth plan.

“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of laws in regards to if you touch the flower in Canada, where you can be associated, what stock exchange you can trade on,” Simon said.

“There’s no real synergies, there’s no real savings if we put the company together.”

However, Simon suggested Aphria would be open to potential deals with other players around the world.

“There’s no such thing as cheap money out there, but it’s [a question of] who’s strategic? Who can help the company? And listen, Constellation, Altria, Molson Coors, and a lot of others have tried to jump in here – and will jump in here,” Simon said.

“With a good strategy, good governance and a good plan out there and being able to put out good products, I’m sure there’s a lot of great strategic partners for [Aphria] around the world.”

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