Canopy Growth announces new CEO to replace ousted Bruce Linton

Canopy Growth announced Monday a new CEO to take over about six months after co-founder and co-CEO Bruce Linton was ousted from the company.

David Klein, Canopy’s current chief financial officer and chairman of its board, will replace current CEO Mark Zekulin as of Jan. 14, 2020.

“Canopy Growth sits at the forefront of one of the most exciting new market opportunities in our lifetime,” Klein said in a statement. “Thanks to the efforts of Mark and the entire team at Canopy Growth, no company is better positioned to win in the emerging cannabis market.

“I look forward to working with the team to build on the foundation that has been laid, to develop brands that strongly resonate with consumers, and to capture the market opportunity before us.”

Klein is a veteran of beverage company Constellation Brands, which owns a 38 per cent stake in Canopy. He spent 14 years there as its executive vice president and CFO.

Klein’s appointment comes after Canopy fired co-founder and co-CEO Bruce Linton in July. Linton was an outspoken figure in the cannabis industry and was the face of Canopy during the initial phase of legalization in Canada.

Since then, the company says it conducted a “thorough recruiting process” and chose Klein, who is an “experienced strategist” with a “deep understanding of how to build enduring consumer brands.”

Zekulin, who also co-founded the company with Linton, will step down Dec. 20 and resign his seat on the board of directors. Klein will also no longer serve as the chair of the board.

“It has been an incredible six years at Canopy Growth, and I have witnessed the team and Company grow from five people in an abandoned chocolate factory, to thousands of people across five continents,” Zekulin said in a statement.

“Canopy today is positioned to win with the resources, infrastructure, team, and award-winning culture needed to succeed. It has truly been an honour to be part of building a unique, Canadian success story like Canopy, and I look forward to seeing the Company continue to evolve and grow under David’s leadership.”

The appointment of Klein could be Constellation Brands’ attempt to turn Canopy around after a rough couple of quarters. Canopy lost $670 million in the last quarter, and its net revenue dropped 15 per cent, driven by weak sales of oil and soft gel capsules.

Constellation said it has lost $500 million from its investment in Canopy since buying its stake in August 2018. Constellation Brands CEO Bill Newlands had expressed disappointment in Canopy’s financial performance days before Linton was fired as CEO.

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