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Sep 13, 2018

Newstrike CEO takes shot at pot sector’s ‘unattainable’ goals

Pot ETF hits $1B milestone, but this money manager isn't sold


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The chief executive of Newstrike Brands Ltd., the Toronto-based cannabis company backed by The Tragically Hip, took a shot at his industry rivals Thursday while touting his company’s “more realistic and humble” strategy.

In a letter to shareholders, Jay Wilgar said that Newstrike is preparing for Canada’s legalization of cannabis on Oct. 17 differently from the rest of the marijuana sector and plans “to keep it real.”

“It seems to us, while many in our emerging industry are aspiring towards some form of global domination set against a backdrop of aspirational but likely unattainable goals, we have a far more realistic and humble approach with a focused strategy to achieve value for our shareholders,” Wilgar wrote in the letter.

He added that the company is exploring “several opportunities” as it eyes long-term opportunities in the sector, including cannabis concentrates, vape pens, edibles and beverages.

“With a cash balance of nearly $125 million at the end of the second quarter, Newstrike is in a strong position to take an active role in the evolution of our industry as we look to mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, joint ventures and licensing agreements to build out our offering,” Wilgar said.

“We are exploring several opportunities to add innovative products to our portfolio that will create new revenue streams and leverage the brand investment that we have made, and continue to make, in Up Cannabis.”

Newstrike was left out in the cold after Aurora Cannabis Inc. agreed to buy CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. for $1.1 billion in January after a months-long takeover battle. The pact effectively left Newstrike, which Saskatoon-based CanniMed had agreed to buy in an all-stock deal of its own, on the outside looking in because it was excluded from the deal.

In his letter to shareholders Wilgar also played up Newstrike’s affiliation with The Tragically Hip, calling the iconic Canadian band a “critical part” of the company. Newstrike plans to start offering five dried cannabis strains with names inspired by the band, including Grace, 50, Moon, Meridian and Gems, Wilgar said.