Esteban Lopez

Aphria’s CEO and Co-Founder Step Down

The departure of CEO Vic Neufeld and Co-Founder Cole Cacciavillani follow a rocky recent past for the company.

Full story after the jump.

Canadian cannabis producer Aphria, which was accused in December by a short seller and then targeted by a hostile takeover, is changing up its senior leadership, MarketWatch reports.

Aphria is still fending off a hostile takeover after facing accusations of fraudulent financial reporting from Gabriel Grego — a well-known short-seller with Quintessential Capital Management — surfaced in December, causing Aphria share prices to plummet. Grego said that company insiders were playing a shell game with certain acquisitions in order to enrich company insiders at shareholder expensive. Aphria said the accusations were baseless and launched an internal investigation to prove that to shareholders.

After the accusations, however, the board removed CEO Vic Neufeld from his position as Chairman of the Board.

Then hostile bid to acquire Aphria was made by Green Growth Brands Ltd. in January. Aphria’s leadership denied the bid, saying it undervalued the company.

Notably, investment firm Green Acre Capital, which Aphria gave more than C$30 million for the first fiscal quarter, is an investor in Green Growth, though company representatives say they have nothing to do with the hostile bid.

The original five-year commitment for CEO Vic Neufeld and Co-Founder Cole Cacciavillani expired at the start of the new fiscal year. Both leaders announced they will be leaving their positions at the company, though Cacciavillani and Neufeld will remain on the Board of Directors.

Aphria said it is looking for a “globally-minded executive leadership team for the long-term benefit of the company’s patients, shareholders, customers, and employees.”

Following the announcement of the change in leadership, Aphria shares rose 4 percent.

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