European Cannabis Stocks Review: Intercure Sues Better To Recover Loans As Acquisition Falls Through, Yooma Pulls Out Of Japan & More From Chill Brands

Intercure 

Israel’s largest cannabis company, Intercure, saw its stock fall around 10% this week as it became involved in a legal dispute with Cann Pharmaceuticals, which trades as Better. 

Almost exactly a year ago, Intercure announced that it had signed a ‘definitive agreement’ to acquire its Israeli medical cannabis stablemate Better in a deal worth US$35m in stock. 

The deal, which was initially expected to be finalised by the start of Q3 2022 subject to approvals from the Israeli Medical Cannabis Agency (IMCA), was set to see Intercure obtain Better’s commercial activities both in Israel and abroad, alongside its intellectual property, cultivation site and unique strains. 

On November 23, 2023, with the initial completion date already overdue, Intercure released a statement to investors suggesting that there were ‘some fundamental disagreements between the parties’ which ‘pose doubts as to whether the transaction will in fact be completed’. 

Earlier this month (February 1, 2023), the deal was officially scrapped ‘in accordance with the terms of the agreement’, which stipulated the deal would be terminated automatically if the merger was not completed by January 31, 2023. 

During this announcement, Intercure said that it was owed ‘significant’ amounts loaned to Better and it ‘intends to recover said amounts under all legal means available’. 

Intercure is understood to have extended loans to Better over the course of its negotiations, alongside providing it with funding and cultivation services. 

According to the Israeli Cannabis Magazine, this related to three separate transactions thought to total around ₪7m (around £1.5m). 

This week, Intercure announced that it was now suing Better, which it said has ‘refused to repay the company’, in a bid to recover the funds. 

In response, Better is understood to be seeking damages to the tune of $30m from Intercure, which it has accused of breaching obligations by failing to transfer all the agreed-upon funds, resulting in ‘a significant decrease in the value of the company and direct and indirect economic damages on a huge scale’. 

Yooma Wellness

Aquis-listed Yooma Wellness announced this week that as part of its ‘ongoing operational restructuring’, it was exiting the ‘unprofitable’ market in Japan via a reversal of its takeover of Vertex. 

Yooma acquired Vertex in October 2021 in a deal worth $12m, with $2.5m being paid in cash upfront, and two payments of $6.5m and $3m due on April 30 of 2023 and 2024 respectively. 

According to the company, it also agreed to refinance up to $2m of Vertex’s debt to fund working capital requirements. 

Under the terms of the settlement now reached by Yooma and Vertex, both parties will ‘exchange mutual releases’ which will result in the discharge of around $12m ‘in debts, obligations, interest payments and other liabilities’ owed by the company in relation to the initial transaction, releasing Yooma from ‘any future commitments with respect to Vertex’. 

Alongside its divestment from operations in Japan, Yooma also announced that its wholly owned subsidiary Greenleaf SAS was ‘not able to meet its current liabilities with available assets’ and is therefore in a state of suspension of payments under local law. 

Greenleaf is understood to have requested the opening of a legal redress procedure in France. 

Following Yooma’s divestment of operations in the United States last year and subsequent withdrawal from Japan, the company’s remaining business interests are now focused solely in Europe. 

“The Company is continuing to consider all available options to address its liquidity constraints and satisfy its current and future obligations, which may include raising short-term debt or equity financing, a sale of company assets, including its Vitality CBD business, an orderly wind-down of some or all of the members of the company’s corporate group or, if and to the extent applicable, insolvency proceedings for some or all of the members of the company’s corporate group,” it said in a statement. 

“There can be no assurance at this time which alternatives, if any, will be pursued by the Company and whether the Company will be successful in addressing its liquidity constraints.”

In response to this announcement, investor SEED Innovations said that Yooma had become ‘an immaterial holding’, representing just 0.26% of its portfolio Net Asset Value (NAV), valued at just £43k. 

Chief Executive of Seed, Ed McDermott, commented: “Whilst we are clearly disappointed with this news from Yooma, over time this has become an immaterial holding for the company, being 0.26% of NAV, and therefore its impact is minimal.”

Chill Brands 

CBD retailer Chill Brands announced this week that it had welcomed the first third-party brand onto its retail website Chill.com, which is thought to have cost the company £1.3m in total

The news, which is the first significant development in the brand’s renewed strategy focusing on ecommerce sales, has seen Chill’s share price jump by around 20% this week. 

Chill Brands Group, the international consumer packaged goods company, is pleased to provide an update on the development of its online sales strategy following the addition of the first third-party brand to the Chill.com website.

US hemp-infused beverages brand Mad Tasty, founded by pop-band OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, will now see its products sold through Chill.com in the US. 

According to Chill, it has also reached agreements with five additional brands and continues to negotiate with numerous others with a view to selling their products on its marketplace in due course. 

Chill Brand’s CEO Callum Sommerton said: “This is the first visible step towards the creation of a marketplace on Chill.com, which we intend to aggressively develop as a home for novel products, natural ingredients, and compelling brands. Most importantly, this marketplace model will also serve as a scalable new revenue stream that will complement the imminent expansion of our own ‘Chill’ branded product range.”

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