Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld to step down, as company posts quarterly earnings

Marco Green
January 12, 2019

The company reported mixed quarterly results Friday morning.

Marijuana producer Aphria Inc. says chief executive Vic Neufeld and co-founder Cole Cacciavillani will be leaving their executive roles at the company, but will remain on the board.

"Building and leading a Company like Aphria, which exploded from an idea in late 2013 to our many successes to-date, has been an incredible journey, despite the toll it has taken on health, family and personal priorities".

The market responded positively to Neufeld and Cacciavillani's departures on Friday, pushing Aphria shares to close up 5.4 per cent on the Toronto Stock Exchange to $9.18.

"We continue to have the greatest pride in what Aphria has achieved, and its future has never looked brighter", Neufeld said in a statement Friday.

One of the largest cannabis companies in Canada, Aphria's stock was hammered a few months ago by allegations from short sellers that the company bought numerous assets in the Caribbean and Latin America at grossly inflated prices, created to enrich insiders. Since their report was released on December 3, the company's stock is down 17 per cent.

The company has denied the report, but established a special committee of independent directors to review the deals.

Aphria is also the target of a proposed C$2.8 billion hostile takeover bid by Green Growth Brands Inc., which has raised further questions about connections between the two companies.

Newly appointed chairman Irwin Simon and President Jakob Ripshtein, who joined the company from Diageo Plc in May, will "complete a smooth and responsible transition to a globally-minded executive leadership team", the company said.

Neufeld has been at the helm of the company throughout its meteoric rise, but has also overseen the recent volatility.

Aphria reported $21.7 million in revenue in its fiscal second quarter that ended November 30, up 63 per cent from the same period a year ago, but short of the $28.8 million that analysts had expected. In the three months to November 30, it booked $22-million in net revenue, selling 3,409 kilograms of cannabis.

Aphria earned a profit of $54.8 million or 22 cents per share for its quarter ended November 30 compared with a profit of $6.5 million or five cents per share for the same period past year. However, its average selling price fell to C$6.54 per gram from C$7.12 in the prior quarter due to lower average prices in the recreational market compared with the medical market.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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