Danish cannabis IPO aims to benefit from surge in investor interest

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish cannabis firm StenoCare is preparing to list shares in Copenhagen next month, the first in Europe to launch an initial public offering (IPO) to take advantage of a surge in investor interest.

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Scientists say evidence is growing that cannabis can ease epilepsy and other conditions - such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-induced nausea - prompting renewed interest in the field.

Denmark is one of several European countries, which also include Germany, Britain, the Czech Republic and Italy, that have allowed the prescription of medicinal cannabis oil.

Denmark, which legalized the medicinal use of cannabis from Jan. 1 this year, is also one of the few European nations to legalize its local production as well.

StenoCare, the first Danish company to get permission to import, produce and sell cannabis oil in Denmark, says it will raise money to launch its own production facility, allowing it to serve its local market and export to other European markets.

“There are concerns in Germany and other countries about security of supply, because the global production capacity is not big enough to meet demand,” Chief Executive Thomas Skovlund Schnegelsberg told Reuters.

“In order to secure supply to Denmark and other European markets, we need to have our own production,” he said.

The company said the IPO would be the first of its kind in Europe.

StenoCare now imports cannabis from Canada’s CannTrust, with first deliveries to Danish pharmacies and hospitals this month. Canada in June became the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to fully legalize marijuana.

Recreational use of cannabis is still prohibited in Denmark, even though the capital’s district of Christiania is famous for its cannabis-selling booths, which are illegal although the authorities rarely clamp down on the activity.

Interest in the use of cannabis in health and consumer products has spiked recently. This week, Coca-Cola Co KO.N said it was closely watching the fast-growing marijuana drinks market for a possible entry.

StenoCare, founded last year by CEO Schnegelsberg and Chief Operating Officer Soren Kjaer, plans to raise 18.6 million Danish crowns ($2.9 million) on Copenhagen’s Spotlight exchange.

The company plans to use an existing building in Denmark for production before the end of the year and start growing cannabis next year.

The subscription period for the IPO begins Sept. 24 and ends on Oct. 9 with trading planned for Oct. 26. Shares are offered at 8.80 Danish crowns per share, valuing the firm at 59.7 million Danish crowns.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Edmund Blair