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Aurora Cannabis founder Booth out as CEO

2020-02-06 16:45 ET - News Release

Mr. Terry Booth reports


Aurora Cannabis Inc. has plans for a chief executive officer succession and board expansion, the latter of which is detailed in a separate announcement released this afternoon. The company also announced a business transformation plan that better aligns selling, general and administrative expenses, and capital expenditures with current market conditions.

These combined changes are consistent with, and evidence of Aurora's commitment to, achieving positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) and cash flow as rapidly as possible, while still maintaining the ability to capitalize on longer-term Canadian and global cannabis market opportunities.

CEO succession

Aurora CEO Terry Booth stated: "Over the last seven years, Aurora has built an incredible platform and a leading position in the global cannabis industry. I am proud and humbled to have led that journey with a deeply talented and passionate team of employees. While there is still much work to be done, the timing is right to announce my retirement with a thoughtful succession plan in place and the immediate expansion of the board of directors. These changes, along with the financial transformation which we are undertaking, should clearly demonstrate to investors that Aurora has the continuity, strategic direction and leadership it needs to transition from its entrepreneurial roots to an established organization well positioned to capitalize on a global growth opportunity. In that spirit, and with my full support, the board of directors has appointed Michael Singer as interim CEO, effective immediately."

Mr. Booth continued: "As part of the succession plan, I will become a senior strategic adviser to the board and remain a director. Additionally, we're welcoming new independent members: Lance Friedmann and Michael Detlefsen, who bring a wealth of strategic and hands-on consumer products industry experience to the organization."

Michael Singer, Aurora's executive chairman and interim CEO, stated: "I look forward to serving as interim CEO and executing on our short-term plans, which include a rationalization of our cost structure, reduced capital spending, and a more conservative and targeted approach to capital deployment. These are necessary steps that reflect a fundamental change in how we will operate the business going forward."

Mr. Singer continued: "On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Terry for his leadership over the years. He's made an indelible mark on the industry and left an enviable legacy in the form of Aurora Cannabis and the potential that exists for the company over the coming decades. As one of the original cannabis visionaries, Terry is an invaluable resource with deep industry knowledge that we can leverage strategically. I look forward to having him continue on as a senior strategic adviser to our board of directors."

Financial transformation and capital position

Management today announced sweeping changes intended to rationalize the cost structure and balance sheet going forward. The company believes this will better align the business financially with the current realities of the cannabis market in Canada while maintaining a sustainable platform for long-term growth.

These actions are expected to include significant and immediate decreases in selling, general and administrative expenses and capital investment plans.

Selling, general and administrative expenses

It is the company's intention to manage the business to an SG&A range of $40-million to $45-million per quarter by the end of the fiscal fourth quarter of 2020, a significant decrease from the preliminary fiscal second quarter 2020 range announced today. To do this, management plans to focus the business on its core areas: (1) Canadian consumer market; (2) Canadian medical market; (3) established international medical markets; and (4) U.S. market initiatives. Severance and other one-time charges related to SG&A reductions are expected to range from $2-million to $4-million and will be largely incurred in the company's fiscal second and third quarters ending Dec. 31, 2019, and March 31, 2020, respectively.

As part of the changes to operations, the company has eliminated close to 500 full-time equivalent staff across the company, including approximately 25 per cent of corporate positions. Additionally, management is restructuring spending plans on information technology projects, sales and marketing initiatives, travel and entertainment, professional services, and other non-revenue-generating third party costs, which do not provide an immediate impact on revenue.

Capital expenditures

Aurora announced its intention to reduce capital expenditures for the second half of fiscal 2020 to bring capital expenditures below $100-million in total. Over the past several weeks, Aurora management has undertaken a detailed evaluation of all capital projects under way and made decisions with respect to continuing or terminating further investment in each. Future capital allocation decisions will be scrutinized first and foremost through a lens of optimizing near-term investor returns.

Balance sheet and liquidity

Aurora has also announced a number of amendments to its secured credit facilities, which are designed to better align the company's balance sheet and cash flow expectations with current market conditions and to provide financial flexibility over the near term. These amendments include:

  • Complete removal of all EBITDA ratio covenants, originally set to commence in the period ending Sept. 30, 2020;
  • Complete removal of fixed-charge coverage ratio covenant;
  • Adjustment of the total financed debt to equity covenant to 0.20 to 1 commencing in fiscal third quarter 2020 from 0.25 to 1 currently;
  • Reduction of the total facility size available by $141.5-million;
  • Introduction of a new minimum liquidity covenant of $35-million;
  • The introduction of a covenant requiring Aurora to achieve positive EBITDA thresholds beginning in fiscal first quarter 2021 that the company believes are consistent with today's announced changes.

Glen Ibbott, Aurora's chief financial officer, stated: "We are pleased to have reached an agreement with our syndicate of banks to provide Aurora with additional financial flexibility aligned with our focus on achieving near-term profitability and providing the company with options to refinance the facility at maturity. I would like to thank our banking partners for their continued support of Aurora."

Aurora announced that, given market current cannabis market conditions and the slower-than-expected near-term industry growth, it has undertaken a thorough review of all business operations and concluded that certain assets and goodwill values as at Dec. 31, 2019, exceed current fair market valuations. As such, when Aurora formally reports its fiscal second quarter 2020 results, it expects to report asset impairment charges on certain intangibles and property, plant and equipment in a range of $190-million to $225-million and writedowns of goodwill in the range of $740-million to $775-million. Following these non-cash charges, Aurora expects to remain compliant with its revised total debt to equity covenant going forward.

Mr. Ibbott continued: "The assets being impaired are predominantly associated with our operations in South America and Denmark, as our estimate of the timeline for substantial growth extends in those markets. Our core Canadian cannabis assets are not impacted by these non-cash asset impairment charges."

Mr. Ibbott concluded: "We believe that the long-term opportunity for Aurora remains very compelling, despite a slower-than-anticipated rate of industry growth in the near term. We also believe our approach to rationalizing the business and conservatively improving our balance sheet positions Aurora in a more stable position for sustainable growth going forward."

Aurora announced that its consolidated cash position was $156-million, excluding $45-million of restricted cash as at Dec. 31, 2019. This includes gross proceeds raised under its $400-million (U.S.) at-the-market (ATM) financing program of approximately $245-million (U.S.) (or approximately $325-million) to date in fiscal 2020. As of today, the company has remaining capacity under its current ATM program of approximately $200-million. With the cost reduction and business transformation initiatives announced today, the company expects that utilization of the ATM capacity will be sufficient to finance operations and remaining required capital expenditures, to the points where positive EBITDA and free cash flow are achieved.

Unaudited preliminary second quarter fiscal 2020 financial results

Aurora today provided unaudited preliminary second quarter fiscal 2020 financial results. The company expects cannabis revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2020 of $62-million to $66-million, net of excise taxes. Aurora expects to record provisions for returns, price reductions and future provisions of approximately $12-million, almost all of which relate to product sold in previous quarters. Therefore, net cannabis revenues, after giving effect to these offsets, are expected to be $50-million to $54-million. These revenue expectations reflect consistent quarter-over-quarter medical revenues, a decrease in international revenues due to short-term German supply interruptions and much lower bulk sales. For the second quarter, Aurora expects to report modest quarter-over-quarter growth in consumer cannabis revenues prior to applying these offsetting return and price reduction allowances.

Cash cost to produce per gram of dried cannabis sold (1) is expected to remain below $1, sales and marketing expenses are expected to be between $28-million and $32-million, and general and administrative expenses are expected to be between $70-million and $75-million.

The outlook for cannabis revenue for Aurora's fiscal third quarter is expected to be impacted by the general industry headwinds mentioned herein and, as such, will likely show little to no growth relative to fiscal second quarter's cannabis revenue of $62-million to $66-million, prior to the provisions for returns and price reductions.

Aurora will announce its full second quarter fiscal 2020 financial results on Feb. 13, 2020.

Aurora will host a conference call today at 5 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss these updates.

CEO succession and business transformation plan conference call

Date:  Feb. 6, 2020

Time:  5 p.m. Eastern Time or 3 p.m. Mountain Time

Replay:  844-512-2921 or 412-317-6671

PIN:  13698974

The replay will be available until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Feb. 20, 2020.

(1) Cash cost to produce per gram of dried cannabis sold is a non-generally accepted accounting principle financial measure and is not recognized, defined or subject to standardized measurement under international financial reporting standards. Aurora defines and reconciles the calculation to IFRS in the company's interim management's discussion and analysis. Cash cost to produce per gram of dried cannabis sold is calculated by taking the IFRS cost of sales, excluding the effect of changes in the FV of biological assets and inventory, and deducting depreciation, cannabis extract conversion costs, cost of accessories, cost of products purchased from other licensed producers that were sold, cost of sales from non-cannabis producing subsidiaries and postproduction costs. Cash cost to produce per gram of dried cannabis sold is calculated by taking cash cost to produce of dried cannabis sold divided by total grams of dried cannabis sold in the period that were produced by Aurora. Management believes these measures provide useful information about the efficiency of production and fulfilment for the company's core cannabis operations.

About Aurora Cannabis Inc.

Headquartered in Edmonton, Alta., Canada, with sales and operations in 25 countries across five continents, Aurora is one of the world's largest and leading cannabis companies. Aurora is vertically integrated and horizontally diversified across every key segment of the value chain, from facility engineering and design to cannabis breeding and genetics research, cannabis and hemp production, derivatives, high-value-add product development, home cultivation, wholesale, and retail distribution.

Highly differentiated from its peers, Aurora has established a uniquely advanced, consistent and efficient production strategy, based on purpose-built facilities that integrate leading-edge technologies across all processes, defined by extensive automation and customization, resulting in the massive-scale production of high-quality consistent product. In addition to the company's rapid organic growth and strong execution on strategic mergers and acquisitions, which to date include 17 wholly owned subsidiary companies: MedReleaf, CanvasRX, Peloton Pharmaceutical, Aurora Deutschland, H2 Biopharma, B.C. Northern Lights, Larssen Greenhouses, CanniMed Therapeutics, Anandia, HotHouse Consulting, MED Colombia, Agropro, Borela, ICC Labs, Whistler, Chemi Pharmaceutical and Hempco, Aurora is distinguished by its reputation as a partner and employer of choice in the global cannabis sector, having invested in and established strategic partnerships with a range of leading innovators, including: Radient Technologies Inc., Cann Group Ltd., Micron Waste Technologies Inc., Choom Holdings Inc., CTT Pharmaceuticals, Alcanna Inc., High Tide Inc., EnWave Corp., Capcium Inc. and Evio Beauty Group.

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