Constellation Brands Inc. is spending C$5 billion ($3.8 billion) to increase its stake in cannabis grower Canopy Growth Corp. in what the owner of Corona beer described as the biggest investment yet in the burgeoning marijuana industry.
Constellation will raise its stake in Canopy to 38 percent, it said in a statement. The agreement, which could eventually give the Victor, New York-based beverage company control, follows an initial purchase of a 10 percent stake in the Canadian grower last year.
“Over the past year, we’ve come to better understand the cannabis market, the tremendous growth opportunity it presents, and Canopy’s market-leading capabilities in this space,” Constellation Chief Executive Officer Rob Sands said.
Makers of alcoholic beverages, searching for new sources of growth as their traditional business slows in many developed markets, are looking to cannabis as Canada and some U.S. states ease regulations. Molson Coors Brewing Co. has started a joint venture with Hydropothecary Corp. to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market. Heineken NV’s Lagunitas craft-brewing label has launched a brand specializing in non-alcoholic drinks infused with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
Growers are also consolidating. Aurora Cannabis Inc. has announced at least 15 acquisitions in the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, including Anandia Laboratories Inc. in June for about C$115 million.
Constellation Brands said it’s buying the new shares at C$48.60 a share, a 38 percent premium to Canopy’s five-day volume-weighted average on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and a 51.2 percent premium to the Tuesday close.
Constellation could lift its stake to more than 50 percent within the next three years if it exercises existing and new warrants.
Under the agreement, Constellation will be able to name four of Canopy Growth’s seven directors. Canopy Growth, based in Smiths Falls, Ontario, will continue to be led by its existing management.