One of the leading US-based cannabis companies thinks its US$130 million bet on Europe will pay off in the long run.
During an interview at the latest Prohibition Partners LIVE event on Thursday (May 20), Boris Jordan, executive chairman and founder of Curaleaf Holdings (CSE:CURA,OTCQX:CURLF), outlined the reasons why his company is placing such value on Europe at a critical time for the US cannabis marketplace.
Curaleaf, a multi-state operator from Massachusetts, holds a massive presence in the growing US state cannabis market. Jordan revealed, however, that he sees the European cannabis space as a secondary source of growth that is now coming into play after a long period of focus on the US.
For those reasons, the company purchased EMMAC Life Sciences by way of a US$130 million investment alongside an institutional investor, which Jordan said will not be revealed as part of the agreement.
The deal is designed to give Curaleaf a hub of sorts in Europe from which it can create a foundation and pursue desirable European markets. The company will be known as Curaleaf International Holdings.
In its own internal estimations, Curaleaf views Europe and its adjacent markets with a potential value of US$200 billion in cannabis, the executive revealed.
“The Europeans are taking a more careful approach to this and a far more pharmaceutical medical approach than the United States did,” Jordan said, clarifying that his comments were not meant as a slight to European progress on cannabis policy.
He noted that Europe’s predominantly medical market is allowing for a research process to create safer products, and is also giving regulators time to familiarize themselves with the industry at large.
Even so, Europe has represented a uniquely challenging opportunity for cannabis companies based in North America.
Canadian producers with an early start to accessing the capital markets had lofty expectations for what their influence and reach could be in nascent European cannabis markets.
While a few companies have successfully established a presence in the region, for example in Germany’s medical markets, that previous vision has been largely diminished for the time being due to limited strategies from Canadians, which have had to deal with tumultuous financial results, executive leadership changes and new game plans.
Jordan wants Curaleaf to continue primarily targeting the US, but he believes in the long run that looking to Europe now will pay off for Curaleaf.
“You can’t build either national or global brands unless you have the distribution capability and the manufacturing capability in those markets,” he said.
Jordan explained that there will be no cash flow between the US and Europe for Curaleaf and its new subsidiary Curaleaf International. He will be a chairman for the entity, but the management team from EMMAC Life Sciences will remain in place.
The company structured its deal this way in an effort to de-risk its position in Europe, Jordan told the audience. Cannabis remains federally illegal in the US, and there is uncertainty about when policy changes may come in the nation.
Jordan also said the company wanted to get ahead on building a European entity with the brand name Curaleaf. “Many American companies sometimes have made mistakes when they’ve gone abroad in trying to bring their business practices everywhere and it doesn’t work,” he said.
When asked if now more American cannabis companies will also look for European expansions, Jordan said his comfort level with Europe played a big factor in Curaleaf getting this deal done.
“I understand Europe, I think, a bit better than a lot of my colleagues, and I felt more comfortable making that entry into the European market albeit early,” Jordan said.
The Curaleaf executive touted his own advantage leading this effort for the company in comparison to what his peers in the US cannabis industry may or may not know about the ins and outs of Europe.
Jordan said he is familiar and comfortable with the European market given his working experience and 27 years of time there.
“I think that eventually they will come, once the program is bigger,” said the executive, explaining that US companies are a bit restricted in spending capital at the moment.
However, he said, at the end of the day capital can be found — more crucially, these other companies are not yet familiar with the European market.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.