Shares of Aphria (APHA) 6.24, +0.67) have climbed 12.0% in pre-market after Green Growth Brands (private company) made a hostile takeover bid for the Canadian cannabis grower. Green Growth Brands owns a portfolio of companies that grow and sell cannabis and cannabis-based products. The company has conducted previous business with Aphria, but Green Growth Brands believes that Aphria could benefit from having an accomplished management team, which is something that Green Growth brings to the table. Since Green Growth Brands in private, the hostile takeover lacks the clarity of a "real deal” since the financial structure of the acquirer cannot be thoroughly evaluated. As for APHA, its market capitalization of $1.51 billion, $4.66 book value and $236 million in cash with revenue of $33 million offer a mixed picture. Out of whack is the inflated market capitalization, which is prevalent with most cannabis public companies. Aphria Inc. produces and sells medical cannabis in Canada and internationally. The company offers sativa, indica, and hybrid medical marijuana products, as well as cannabis oils. Aphria's business model has preformed above average and is basically a sound company.
Green Growth's offer would provide shareholders of Aphria with 1.5714 shares of Green Growth for each share of Aphria. The purchase price represents a 45.5% premium to Aphria's closing price on December 24 but places a zero intrinsic value on Green Growth, the private company. The offer, which values Aphria at $2.10 billion, implies a CAD7 price for Green Growth's shares, yet the stock ended yesterday's session at CAD4.98. The price contraction indicates the potential of a “snatch and run” deal is in works to capture a real business and create an artificial value for a private company.
Our interest is how cannabis plays are evolving in a less than the accountable marketplace. For a private company to make such an outrageous move on a public company indicates that fundamentals don’t count. Aphria shareholders should not accept this audacious offer and remain independent.