‘London Is Open’ is a three-part series from Cannabis Europa and Prohibition Partners, exploring the promising opportunities for successful medicinal cannabis and CBD companies listing on the London stock markets this year.
Virtual Round Table Highlights
On 9 March 2021, Cannabis Europa and Prohibition Partners hosted an exclusive virtual round-table and networking event exploring the promising opportunities for cannabis-related businesses (CRBs) seeking to list on one of London’s capital markets successfully. The round-table was led by the CEO and co-founder of Prohibition Partners, Stephen Murphy, and he was joined by Eran Zucker (Managing Director at Peterhouse Capital), Jack Delaney (Senior Associate at Hill Dickinson) and Alasdair Haynes (Founder & CEO at Aquis Exchange).
FCA Listing Guidelines
On 18 September 2020, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) updated its guidelines regarding cannabis-related businesses (CRBs) looking to float on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The UK’s financial regulator announced that overseas and UK-based medicinal cannabis and CBD companies are eligible to float on the LSE as long as they abide by the Proceeds of Crime Act and hold the appropriate Home Office licences. This was a significant step for the European cannabis industry as the announcement was the first by a financial regulator to provide guidelines for CRB IPOs in the region. Following this announcement, the LSE saw three listings of CRBs in 2021: Kanabo, MGC Pharmaceuticals and Cellular Goods.
The announcement provides the industry with a clear set of guidelines, as Jack Delaney, Senior Associate at Hill Dickinson, confirmed: ‘It’s been an interesting journey, particularly in listing Kanabo this year. Typically, when clients come to us and want to speak about listing their cannabis company, they want to know how long it’s going to take and what steps to follow. For Hill Dickinson as their legal adviser, we didn’t have a clear set of guidelines from the FCA until September last year. So, up until that point, it was quite a challenge to understand the potential pitfalls for cannabis companies looking to list.’ He continued, stating that ‘in many ways for investors, it’s a good thing that it has taken this long. The FCA undertook a very thorough and comprehensive review to get to this stage, and the guidelines it has now defined are the result of a very collaborative process.’
Listing on the Aquis Exchange
Although the recent CRB listings on the LSE are a fantastic development for the industry, the UK saw CRBs listed on the Aquis stock exchange as early as 2018. The growth market that competes with AIM is split into two segments: APX (Apex) and AXS (Access). The two segments have different admission criteria levels, providing support for companies at various stages of their growth cycle. The Access segment is appropriate for companies undergoing early-stage growth, whereas the Apex segment is intended for established companies with a more robust growth strategy. The AQSE Growth Market is of particular interest for CRBs, as a handful of companies in the sector are already listed on the market, such as Sativa Wellness Group, Love Hemp, Greencare Capital and Ananda Developments.
During the round-table, Alasdair Haynes, the founder & CEO at Aquis Exchange, said, ‘I think it is great news that the FCA has endorsed something that we believed in for quite a long time. We actually have five companies trading, which are cannabis companies – three investment companies, one life-science company and one manufacturer of cannabis.’ Alasdair continued, ‘We understand that new companies which come on board with small market caps need to have a different set of rules as well as liquidity and different trading mechanisms for them to grow. Starting from the Access market to the Apex market and ultimately on to our main market.’
As CRBs seeking a listing in London have a multitude of choices on which exchanges they can join, it is crucial to select the best fit where they can enjoy the most success. When asked for advice about choosing a suitable exchange for CRBs, Eran Zucker, Managing Director at Peterhouse Capital, stated, ‘We are seeing a lot of companies approach us now, following the Kanabo listing. We need to look at these companies and decide which companies are actually fit for the markets themselves. I think it is very clear that each exchange has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. There is a question of size, liquidity, the amount of money you can and can’t raise, and a question of cost. Those aspects would determine Peterhouse Capital’s advice to the companies themselves as to which exchange they should join.’
CRBs Going Public
Due to the success of the recent listings of CRBs on the LSE, many cannabis companies have been eyeing the opportunity to go public in London. It is expected that more CRBs will successfully list in London, creating a more robust and dynamic industry in the near future.
Recently, on 30 March, Northern Leaf, a Jersey-based medical cannabis cultivator, announced it had raised £14 million in an oversubscribed offering before its IPO on the LSE later this year. This not only highlights the demand for CRBs looking to go public in London but also reflects the investor appetite for the sector.
When asked why London is such an attractive market for cannabis companies, Alasdair Haynes stated that ‘London has a reputation of an incredibly high standard. The standards are very high, so the investors feel very protected, and that is really important when making investments that you know that the information is available.’
To watch the entire round-table discussion, please click here
About Peterhouse Capital
Peterhouse provides integrated financial services – Corporate Finance, Corporate Broking, a Matched Bargain facility and Securities Trading – to companies which are listed on, or looking to join, the Standard List of the Main Market, AIM, the Aquis Exchange, or IPSX.
Peterhouse is the #1 London-based independent investment bank, as well as the leading independent small cap broker for AIM companies, and has completed, on average, one Client fundraise per week for three years running.
Peterhouse is also the largest AQSE Corporate Adviser, and its advisory business is known for problem-solving and pioneering new initiatives. These include:
- Supporting the first public company to undertake an ICO
- Listing the first UK medicinal cannabis investment company & the first cannabis IPO on the London Stock Exchange
- Structuring the first Aquis Exchange bond issue
- Introduced the first Canadian Stock Exchange/Aquis Exchange fast track dual listing
The Peterhouse team works closely with clients to provide them with pertinent and meaningful advice and bespoke solutions, whether on routine public company matters or in the context of complex corporate transactions.
For further information about the firm, click here.
About Hill Dickinson
Hill Dickinson LLP is a leading and award-winning international commercial law firm with more than 850 people including 185 partners and legal directors. It has offices in Liverpool, Manchester, London, Leeds, Piraeus, Singapore, Monaco and Hong Kong.
The firm delivers advice and strategic guidance spanning the full legal spectrum, from non-contentious advisory and transactional work to all forms of commercial litigation and arbitration.
Hill Dickinson’s life sciences team provides practical, commercial legal advice to companies at all stages of development, from start-up to established multinational.
Clients are supported from an idea in a lab, to helping incorporate the company, raising capital, protecting and licensing intellectual property, signing strategic partnerships and, ultimately, commercialising life-changing treatments and technologies.
The interdisciplinary team, based at offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, as well as internationally, blends insight and pragmatism to provide high-quality, trusted advice to some of the world’s leading life sciences companies.
For more information about the team, visit https://www.hilldickinson.com/sectors/life-sciences
For further information about the firm, visit hilldickinson.com
About Prohibition Partners
Prohibition Partners unlocks the potential of cannabis through data, intelligence and networking. We provide strategic solutions to an international client base of investors, operators, blue-chip companies, FMCG brands and government bodies.
Prohibition Partners’ experienced consultancy team can offer cannabis-related businesses intending on floating with the essential information and strategic services needed to prepare for a successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange.
Prohibition Partners’ services include:
- Expert independent market reports
- Due diligence
- Risk analysis
- Competitor benchmarking
- Investor presentations
- Strategic planning
- Stock promotion
- Dedicated events and publications
- Networking and partnerships