The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Facing Controversy and a Takeover, Canadian Cannabis Company Names Organic Products Mogul as Chairman
Daniel Brothers / Moment / Getty Images
Embattled Canadian cannabis company Aphria Inc. named a new, independent chairman in a press release on Dec. 27, 2018: Hain Celestial Group Inc. Founder Irwin D. Simon.
The announcement comes as the company faces a takeover bid from Ohio-based cannabis company Green Growth Brands Inc, Newsday reported Wednesday. The appointment also occurred in the same month as an exposé from Hindenburg Research alleging that Aphria investors were attempting to siphon money from shareholders.
In its press release announcing their decision, Aphria emphasized the fact that appointing Simon as an independent chair would "advance the Company's governance best practices." Their board of directors now has 10 members and a majority, six, are independent.
"Aphria remains committed to strong corporate governance and promoting a culture of integrity and ethical behaviour throughout the organization," the company wrote.
Simon had served as CEO of the Hain Celestial Group for 25 years since founding the organic and natural products company in 1993. He had stepped down as CEO in November, though he continues to act as nonexecutive chairman, Newsday reported.
"Irwin Simon is a dynamic leader and entrepreneur who understands the complexities and responsibilities of building a successful and competitive company," Aphria CEO Vic Neufeld said in the press release. "As we continue to focus on building an extremely dynamic, global cannabis company with tremendous opportunity for substantial shareholder value creation, Irwin's decades of operational and strategic experience in health and wellness and consumer packaged goods will be very valuable."
In an interview with CNBC Wednesday, Simon said that the cannabis industry today reminded him of the natural organic food industry in the 1990s. He touted it as a major growth opportunity, saying it would be a $15 billion business if all 50 states legalize it. In Canada, it is currently a $5.5 billion industry, he said. Beyond smoking for pleasure, he saw major growth potential in food, beverages, supplements, vitamins and medicine.
"You want to talk about trends in 2019. The whole cannabis world is one of the hottest trends I've seen," he told CNBC.
Newsday reported that the legal cannabis market is expected to grow by 14.7 percent per year, to reach $25 billion by 2025, according to the cannabis research firm New Frontier Data.
When asked about the takeover attempt by Green Growth Brands, Simon said the company's current offer was too low to make it a potential strategic partner at the current moment, but that in the future a partnership might be possible, since the company owns many retail outlets.
"While we appreciate GGB's interest in the value we have created at Aphria and our significant growth prospects, their proposal falls short of rewarding our shareholders for participating in such a transaction," Simon wrote in Aphria's official response.
Aphria found that Green Growth Brands' proposal would be 23 percent below its average share price.
The takeover isn't the only controversy Aphria faced this month. In the Dec. 3, report, Hindenburg Research accused the company of being a "shell game" because, it claimed, its recent Latin American acquisitions were "largely worthless." These included an abandoned building in Jamaica that had been sold off by a bank earlier in 2018 and an Argentinian company that one worker said had a 2017 revenue less than half of what Aphria had claimed.
Aphria responded to the report restating the value of its acquisitions, but Hindenburg Research pointed out that it did not dispute key claims, such as the claim that the purchases were made through a series of shell companies or that the supposed office of their Jamaican subsidiary was an abandoned building.
Hindenburg Research also raised questions about the takeover, noting that, among other irregularities, Aphria CEO Neufeld was on the board of of advisers of Green Acre Capital, a group that sponsors the fund that is Green Growth Brands' second biggest shareholder.
"We view this offer as non-credible and likely an attempt to generate the appearance of demand in the hopes of spurring credible offers," Hindenburg Research wrote.
Simon was no stranger to controversy at Hain Celestial. During his tenure, the company settled a nearly $10 million dollar lawsuit in California over claims that two brands it sold as organic did not actually meet the requirements of California's Organic Products Act, Newsday reported at the time.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›