Altria-Cronos deal validates the size of the crossover market: Money manager
Ties between Canadian cannabis companies and big brands seem to be getting stronger, with the deal between U.S. tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. and marijuana producer Cronos Group Inc. being the latest major crossover partnership in the cannabis industry.
While pot beverages and edibles aren’t expected to become legal until 2019, alcohol producers and distributors in particular are looking to get ahead of the curve. Household names like The Coca-Cola Co. and U.K. alcohol giant Diageo Plc are said to have explored opportunities with Canadian pot producers, as reported by BNN Bloomberg earlier this year.
Here’s a look at some of the major deals that have been announced so far.
Altria and Cronos Group
Cronos Group has struck a deal with Altria that will see the U.S. cigarette-maker spend $2.4 billion for a 45-per-cent stake in the Canadian pot producer. There’s also a provision in the deal that could take Altria's stake to 55 per cent.
Neal Brothers and Newstrike
Tragically Hip-backed pot producer Newstrike Brands Ltd. reached a deal in November to create co-branded edibles with specialty foods company Neal Brothers Inc., best known for its chips and salsa. Newstrike will own 60 per cent and Neal Brothers will own 40 per cent of a joint venture that will manufacture, distribute, market and sell cannabis-infused products.
Molson and Hydropothecary
Molson Coors Canada announced in August it was teaming up with Quebec-based Hydropothecary Corp. to develop cannabis-infused, non-alcoholic beverages. Under the terms of the agreement, Molson Coors Canada will hold a controlling 57.5 per cent stake in the partnership. BNN Bloomberg first reported in June that Molson had engaged in talks with as many as four marijuana producers over a six-month period to explore opportunities in Canada's recreational cannabis market.
Tilray and Sandoz Canada
Earlier this year, cannabis producer Tilray Inc. formed an exclusive alliance with Sandoz Canada, which said it would become the first pharmaceutical company to enter the medical cannabis field in the country. As part of the agreement, Tilray will become the exclusive collaborator with the pharma company on cannabis-based medical products which are non-smokable or non-combustible such as gel caps and sprays, with the aim of distributing co-branded products to Canadian hospitals and pharmacies.
Alcanna and Aurora
In February, Aurora Cannabis Inc. bought a stake in Liquor Stores N.A., which has since changed its name to Alcanna. Under the deal, the Edmonton-based licensed marijuana producer initially acquired a 19.9 per cent stake in the liquor store operator for $103.5 million. Aurora later boosted its ownership interest to 25 per cent and could eventually raise its stake to 40 per cent. Proceeds from the investments will help finance Alcanna’s cannabis retail stores.
Constellation Brands and Canopy
Corona beer distributor Constellation Brands Inc. paid $245 million last year for a 9.9 per cent stake in Canopy Growth Corp., Canada’s largest licensed cannabis producer. At the time of the announcement, the two companies said they’d work together to make cannabis-based drinks for distribution in jurisdictions where those products are legal. In August, Constellation announced it was paying $5 billion to raise its stake in Canopy to approximately 38 per cent and also receiving warrants that could eventually push its stake above 50 per cent when exercised.