Aurora Cannabis formally launches hostile takeover bid for CanniMed Therapeutics

An interior view of the Aurora Cannabis Inc. is shown in an undated, handout photo.
An interior view of the Aurora Cannabis Inc. is shown in an undated, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-Aurora Cannabis Inc.

Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis Inc. formally launched its all-stock hostile takeover bid for CanniMed Therapeutics Friday, on the condition the medical marijuana producer cancel its own planned acquisition of Newstrike Resources Ltd.

The licensed marijuana company says in a statement it placed a newspaper ad for its offer, valued at $24 per share, and a takeover bid circular will be mailed to CanniMed’s shareholders.

“We believe that we will be able to accelerate CanniMed’s growth more effectively than current management, and so we invite and encourage CanniMed’s shareholders to tender their shares to the bid,” said Aurora CEO Terry Booth in a news release Friday.

READ MORE: Aurora Cannabis buying greenhouse design firm Larssen to push pot partnership plans

Aurora (TSX:ACB) also outlined the conditions of its offer, including that CanniMed’s (TSX:CMED) recently proposed acquisition of The Tragically Hip-backed marijuana company Newstrike (TSXV:HIP) not proceed and be terminated.

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Aurora says its offer, which would create the second-largest medical-cannabis company in Canada, will remain on the table until March 9, 2018.

This comes after Aurora first announced on Nov. 14 it submitted its takeover proposal to CanniMed’s board, and that it had agreements with shareholders representing 38 per cent of CanniMed’s outstanding shares to support its bid. It gave CanniMed until Nov. 17 to respond.

READ MORE: Shareholders told to wait while CanniMed reviews Aurora offer

On Nov. 14, CanniMed acknowledged Aurora’s announcement but said it did not receive a formal offer. CanniMed also added it was in advanced discussions to acquire Newstrike, which has a partnership with iconic Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip. On Nov. 17 CanniMed announced it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire Newstrike.

By Nov. 20, Aurora said it did not get a response from CanniMed and planned to go hostile with its offer this week

CanniMed said Wednesday it had formed a special committee in anticipation of a formal offer from Aurora.

Shares of Aurora Cannabis were up nearly 4 per cent in early morning trading to $7 in Toronto, while CanniMed shares were virtually flat at $20.94 and Newstrike stock slipped nearly 4 per cent to $0.51.

Aurora Cannabis is building its Aurora Sky cannabis greenhouse near the Edmonton International Airport, which it says will have capacity to produce 100,000 kilograms of cannabis per year.

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READ MORE: Medical pot grower Aurora Cannabis expands to Edmonton airport

The facility will be a closed system hybrid greenhouse capable of precise control of light, heat, humidity and nutrients to produce “ultra low cost” cannabis. To ensure no contaminants enter the system, the air system is designed to be overpressured and overhead robotic cranes will help to replace humans in the growing areas.

WATCH: When it comes to marijuana and people’s attitude towards the drug, the times are changing. Now, Leduc County in Alberta is set to cash in on changing rules and perceptions. Vinesh Pratap files this report on Dec. 2016.

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