ONE of the UK’s largest cannabis cultivation firms has been re-united with the family who founded it – less than a year after being sold to a Canadian Licensed Producer.
Bridge Farm Group was started by Tony and Jayne Ball in 1988 and at the time of the last year’s sale to Sundial Growers it was run by their son David.
Headquartered in Spalding, Lincolnshire, it is one of the UK’s leading producers of plants, flowers and herbs, with 3.5m sq ft of facilities. Its customers include Tescos, Sainsbury, Morrisons and Asda.
Alberta-based Sundial announced plans to turn it into one of Europe’s largest producers of hemp-based CBD on purchasing it in July, 2019.
Ball Bounces Back
But, struggling Sundial has now offloaded it to a newly-formed entity controlled by Artemis Growth Partners, where David Ball is a partner.
Following the initial deal, David Ball, who had led Bridge Farm since 2010, joined Costa-Rican-based cannabis investors Artemis as an operating partner and senior advisor.
In a press release from Artemis David Ball said: “I am delighted that we could close a transaction involving a business that I have known and run as a former CEO, and will now oversee at Artemis as an investment in our portfolio.
“Bridge Farm is the low-cost cultivation platform in the UK for cannabis with over two million square feet of the most technologically advanced, automated glasshouse production in all of Europe.
“We see Bridge Farm as the cornerstone of a vertically-integrated global producer of cannabis and other medicinal botanicals with future offerings ranging from cannabis flower and concentrates, as well as other essential oil and phytomedicinal extracts, into a wide range of plant-based branded and wholesale health and wellness products.”
Sundial Growers Facing Bankruptcy
The sale comes just days after it emerged that Sundial is being sued over claims it misled investors in the run-up to the purchase of Bridge Farm.
In court documents filed by E-Squared Investment Fund and others with the US District Court in New York, it is alleged Bridge Farm ‘did not possess the necessary licences in order to commercially cultivate and export hemp, or CBD, to the EU’.
The plaintiffs are claiming for $4m damages in relation to allegations of ‘fraudulent misconduct’ by Nasdaq-listed Sundial.
The £67m (C$105m) Bridge Farm purchase price will help ease Sundial’s debt burden, but in a press statement Sundial said any failure to complete the transition by June 1, would put it at risk of ‘bankruptcy’.
This fire sale marks a new low for Sundial after it was forced to recall 30,000 pre-roll joints and impose an Inventory write-down of over £8m (C$14.4m) of cannabis stock, driven by an ‘oversupply in the Canadian market’.
Largest Ever European Cannabis Deal
Bridge Farm Group holds UK licences for the cultivation of low-THC cannabis and one of the 20-or-so R&D licences for high-THC cannabis.
Managing Director Louise Motala and Technical Director Andrew Fuller will remain in place to take the business forward.
Bridge Farm will join an Artemis portfolio which features a number of leading cannabis companies including; NOBL Group, PhytoPur Bio, Clever Leaves, Flow Kana, FLOWER CO., Green Thumb Inc., iCAN, and Jacana.
The deal ranks as the largest European M&A transaction in history for cannabis and cannabis-related companies, and represents the largest M&A deal of 2020 in Europe for the horticulture and farming industry.