Outspoken exec Cam Battley leaves Aurora as shares fall

Uh oh, things aren’t looking great for Canadian LP Aurora Cannabis Inc. after it announced its most vocal proponent and chief corporate officer, Cam Battley, has left the company.

Aurora made the announcement in a Saturday afternoon press release.

Battley had joined Aurora in 2016 and was promoted to CCO in 2018 after working a number of senior roles.

He was often seen as the public face of the Edmonton-based company due to his many media appearances, especially leading up to legalization. Aurora says he was “instrumental in Aurora’s international growth.” 

While no reason was given for his departure, Aurora said that Battley did join the board of directors at Brisbane-based MedReleaf Australia last month.

Aurora has a 10% stake and 50% voting rights in MedReleaf Australia, and says the company is fully licensed to cultivate, manufacture, import and sell medical cannabis. Aurora notes that medical cannabis users have grown in Australia from 500 in June 2018 to over 24,000 in November 2019.

“Our roots run deep, and Cam has been an integral part of the development, growth and expansion of Aurora,” Aurora CEO Terry Booth said in a statement. “We are grateful for Cam’s leadership and passion over his many years with Aurora.  I am sure Cam will be successful as he moves on to tackle Australia.”

As a result of the announcement, Aurora’s shares fell to their lowest level in two years on Monday — down to $2.66 in the Toronto Stock Exchange. 

That is a drop of 9.8% from the company’s close of $2.95 on Friday, and way down from its high of $13.57 in March. The company’s stock has declined 45 per cent over the last three months.

Aurora has had a tough year as it has consistently underperformed compared to its peers in the cannabis market. Its revenue has not made targets while the company continues to spend as a part of its international growth strategy.

To help with its tight cash balance, the company announced in its most recent earnings release that it will be temporarily suspending operations at its Denmark and Medicine Hat, Alta., greenhouses. The move will save the company around $200 million.

Analysts have argued that Aurora is spending too quickly given its amount of financial backing. In contrast, cannabis competitors Canopy Growth and Cronos Group Inc. have received billions in investment from Constellation Brands Inc. and Altria Group Inc. respectively.

Aurora isn’t the only Canadian cannabis company that has had a rough time in 2019, though. Other companies have also suffered due to lower than expected sales and high inventory.

Aurora also announced Monday that it has begun shipments of cannabis 2.0 products to Canada’s 10 provincial regulators on Dec. 17, and expects the products will hit store shelves in January.


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