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Aphria announces $100 million investment from unnamed institution

Aphria workers process cannabis. (YouTube)

Canadian cannabis producer Aphria (APHA.TO)(APHA) announced a $100 million investment from an unnamed institutional investor shortly before the start of trading on Friday. 

Toronto-listed shares dropped 5.01 per cent to $7.20 at 9:54 a.m. ET. In New York, the stock fell 3.82 per cent to $5.54.

Aphria said the investor has agreed to purchase 14 million units of the company priced at $7.12. Each unit includes one common share and half of one common share warrant, entitling the holder to purchase a share at $9.26 for 24 months after the closing date.

“Given the strength of our leadership team, the continued execution of our strategic plan and the robust opportunities we have for growth in the global cannabis industry, we were able to secure this additional capital from a single investor, a significant endorsement of Aphria in these market conditions,” Aphria chief financial officer Carl Merton said in the statement. 

“We expect this strategic investment to strengthen our balance sheet and propel Aphria forward as we continue to differentiate ourselves in the industry.”

Aphria said it intends to use the funds to finance expansion, as well as for working capital and general corporate purposes.

The company said the investment strengthens its cash position to nearly $600 million. The offering is expected to close on or about Jan. 31, and is subject to regulatory approval. 

If approved, the institution behind the investment would become the company’s biggest institutional shareholder

The cash injection comes as cannabis companies face a capital drought brought on by a protracted string of weaker-than-expected financial results and a broad-based selloff of cannabis shares. 

“In the midst of a liquidity crisis and with peers scrambling for cash, this strength really sets them apart from the pack, especially as, unlike other peers on a large cash balance, Aphria is also EBITDA positive.” Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett wrote in note to clients on Friday. 

“This means they are in a very strong position to continue to invest behind current Canadian momentum, invest in international expansion (Colombia opportunity and Aphria One just received GMP certification this week to service Europe), while also pursuing value-accretive opportunities as they come along.”

Aphria is Jefferies’ top pick among Canadian cannabis companies. Bennett maintains a “buy” rating on the stock and a $7.58 price target on Toronto-listed shares.