March 13, 2019 / 1:57 PM / 3 months ago

Cannabis maker Aurora picks billionaire investor Peltz as adviser

(Reuters) - Canada’s Aurora Cannabis Inc on Wednesday tapped billionaire Nelson Peltz as a strategic adviser, betting on the consumer industry-focused veteran to help the recreational marijuana maker chart its expansion into new markets.

FILE PHOTO: The Logo for Aurora Cannabis Inc., a Canadian licensed cannabis producer, is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Shares of the company jumped 10 percent after it offered Peltz the role and an option to buy nearly 20 million shares at C$10.34 a share, a small discount on the stock’s close of C$10.64 on Tuesday.

This equates to a nearly 2 percent stake in the company, which would be vested every quarter over a four-year period, Aurora said.

Peltz brings a network of relationships with large potential strategic companies that Aurora could partner with across medical and consumer applications, Cowen and Company analysts said in a note.

His appointment comes weeks after rival Canopy Growth Corp appointed lifestyle guru Martha Stewart to help develop and launch a line of pot-based products.

Aurora, the second biggest cannabis producer by market value, has also been looking beyond recreational marijuana to drive sales, especially after the legalization of hemp, which was part of 2018 U.S. farm bill.

Hemp, a cannabis plant with no or extremely low concentrations of “high” inducing compound, can be used in foods, organic body care and clothing, among others.

“Canadian licensed producers, and Aurora in particular, are well positioned to lead in the development of the international cannabis industry,” Peltz said in a statement.

The activist investor, who heads hedge fund Trian Fund Management, has invested in several global consumer conglomerates, including Mondelez International and Procter & Gamble Co.

He has a 1.5 percent stake worth about $4 billion in P&G and in 2017 won a board seat after waging what was the largest proxy fight ever.

Including Wednesday’s gains, Aurora’s U.S.-listed shares have surged more than 68 percent this year.

Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Sriraj Kalluvila and Arun Koyyur

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