Cannabis Industry Feeling Effects of Coronavirus Financial Fallout

Cannabis businesses in North America are beginning to experience financial fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Full story after the jump.

The financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic on cannabis companies are beginning to manifest as two licensed Canadian firms filed for bankruptcy protection amid the pandemic and the industry saw just two capital raises in the week that ended March 27, Bloomberg News reports.

According to Viridian Capital Advisors data outlined by Bloomberg, the two capital raises were worth just $5.6 million – the lowest level of activity this year. Over the same period last year, there were 17 capital raises in the cannabis space totaling $169 million.

Last week, Canadian firms CannTrust Holdings Inc. and James E. Wagner Cultivation Corp. both filed for bankruptcy protection. CannTrust’s filing can’t necessarily be linked directly to the global pandemic, though, as the company has been beleaguered by violations since last summer, which ultimately culminated in their license suspension in September. The New York Stock Exchange subsequently said it would de-list the firm.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated what were already difficult circumstances making it even more challenging for CannTrust to attract new financing or a strategic partner.” — CannTrust in a statement

James E. Wagner Cultivation announced a deal last Wednesday that will see it undergo a “consensual restructuring” and pursue creditor protection with cannabis industry lender Trichome Financial Corp. Under the terms of the deal, Trichome will provide JWC with a debtor-in-possession loan of up to $2.8 million during the restructuring and Trichome will submit a “stalking-horse” bid.

Moreover, well-capitalized Cronos Group Inc. delayed its fourth-quarter results and restated three previous quarters due to the way it reported bulk resin purchases, according to Bloomberg. Those resin purchases also led to an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Hexo Corp., which is also considered well-capitalized, missed its quarterly filing deadline, announced $266 million of writedowns and impairment charges when it did report, and its revived debt covenants require the firm to raise $40 million in equity by the end of the month, the Bloomberg report says.

In Canada, cannabis companies are eligible for government-backed loans made available as part of the pandemic response. In the U.S., hemp companies can apply for government assistance but not medical or recreational businesses since the cannabis plant remains federally prohibited.

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