Aphria shares slip amid Q3 loss, impairment charge and GGB takeover bid dropped

Aphria shares slip amid Q3 loss, impairment charge and GGB takeover bid dropped
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Shares of Aphria Inc. plunged after the cannabis company swung to a quarterly loss, took an impairment charge related to its Latin America operations and announced that Green Growth Brands had dropped its hostile takeover offer.

Although Leamington, Ont.-based pot producer saw net revenue soar to $73.8 million during its third quarter ended Feb. 28, it posted a net loss of $108.2 million. That’s compared with net revenues of $10.3 million and net profits of $12.9 million during the same period a year earlier.

The company’s stock was down nearly 12 per cent in late morning trading to $11.84 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Aphria said Monday the quarterly loss was largely due to an increase in general and administrative expenses as it moves to expand its capacity, as well as higher overhead costs related to supply shortages, and a “temporary increase” in packaging and distribution costs for the adult-use market after legalization last October.

Irwin Simon, Aphria’s chairman of the board and interim CEO, said it is working to expand its growing capacity and streamline its processes and is embarking on a 90-day strategic plan.

“We should absolutely, getting into September, have ample product to supply the provinces,” he told analysts on a conference call. “And in regards to cost reduction, in automation, there is a significant plan in place.”

The company said its loss for the quarter amounted to 43 cents per share compared with a profit of $12.9 million or eight cents per share in the same quarter a year earlier.

Aphria also announced on Monday that the Ontario Securities Commission requested it perform an impairment test on its LATAM assets and the company determined it should take a $50 million non-cash impairment charge.

This writedown of value comes after short-sellers alleged in December that Aphria’s acquisition of these assets in Latin America were purchased at “vastly inflated” prices, later prompting the company’s board to task a special committee to conduct its own review.

Aphria’s special committee determined that the LATAM purchase was within an acceptable range, but the company said Monday that the impairment charge was due to a reassessment of the discount rate and financial forecasts due to new financial information received. The new information included lower gross margins used by the financial adviser for the special committee and recent data from the LATAM entities that showed “higher-than-expected expenses,” Aphria said.

Meanwhile, Aphria also announced on Monday a deal that will see Green Growth Brands Inc. drop its hostile takeover offer.

GGB’s unsolicited takeover offer came earlier this year after Aphria was targeted by short-sellers, which sent the cannabis producer’s shares down. Aphria rejected the all-stock bid — at 1.5714 shares of GGB for each share — saying it undervalued the company.

On Monday, the two companies announced a series of transactions that will effectively bring to an end GGB’s hostile takeover fight with Aphria.

These transactions include GGB accelerating its expiration of its bid to April 25 instead of May 9. The company has also agreed to pay $89 million for 27.3 million of its shares held by GA Opportunities Corp.

This was the result of a “long process” and negotiation with GGB, said Aphria’s chief financial officer Carl Merton.

“We negotiated extensively with Green Growth to try to find a way to exit a bid that appeared on its face to not be supportable at any level, given where the changing share prices went,” he told analysts.

Peter Horvath, the chief executive of GGB said the move will “benefit our shareholders.”

“We are bringing our offer to an end on good terms with Aphria and are excited to turn our focus to our CBD personal care and retail cannabis businesses,” he said in a statement. “We are actively continuing to review other partnerships and M&A opportunities to accelerate the build out of our company.”

Companies in this story: (TSX:APHA)

Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press

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