Aurora Cannabis Surges 14% as Activist Investor Nelson Peltz Joins as Strategic Advisor

March 13, 2019, 9:41 PM UTC

Aurora Cannabis’ stock surged nearly 14% Wednesday after the company said that Nelson Peltz, a billionaire activist investor and a founding partner of hedge-fund Trian Fund Management, would become a strategic investor and advisor at the company.

Aurora said it granted Peltz options to purchase 19.96 million common Aurora shares at a price of 10.34 Canadian dollars a share, or US$7.74 a share. Peltz would become the cannabis company’s second-largest shareholder if he exercises all the options. Vanguard Group held 20.3 million shares of Aurora at the end of 2018, according to Yahoo Finance.

Peltz’s investments are sometimes seen as adversarial by companies, as Trian’s approach is to push for changes that will increase their market value. Aurora’s tone seemed welcoming of Peltz’s involvement, saying it will “work collaboratively and strategically to explore potential partnerships that would be the optimal strategic fit for successful entry into each of Aurora’s contemplated market segments.”

Peltz serves as non-executive chairman of The Wendy’s Company and a director at Procter & Gamble. His track record as an activist investor can cause stocks to move on news of Trian’s investment activities. Pepsi’s stock fell in 2016 when Peltz sold his shares in the beverage company. P&G’s stock rose after Peltz joined its board in 2017 following a bruising, months-long proxy fight.

“I believe Aurora has a solid execution track record, is strongly differentiated from its peers, has achieved integration throughout the value chain and is poised to go to the next level across a range of industry verticals,” Peltz said in the release. “I also believe that Canadian licensed producers, and Aurora in particular, are well positioned to lead in the development of the international cannabis industry as regulations evolve.”

Jeffries analyst Owen Bennett said in a research note that Peltz’s involvement with Aurora could help bring financial discipline to the company as it manages its future growth. “Peltz should support in ensuring assets are kept that yield most value,” Bennett said. Cowen analyst Vivien Azer shared that optimism. “We look for ACB to be more methodical and patient in partnership selection than its Canadian peers,” she wrote in a research note.