Aurora Cannabis (ACB) to acquire 51% ownership interest in Gaia Pharm
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Aurora Cannabis Inc. (TSX: ACB) (NYSE: ACB) today announced that it has agreed to terms to acquire a 51% ownership interest in Gaia Pharm Lda., a license applicant in Portugal, to establish a local facility to produce medical cannabis and derivative products. The company will be renamed "Aurora Portugal Lda". On February 21, 2019, Gaia Pharm Lda. received approval of its application to construct an EU GMP compliant cannabis cultivation facility from INFARMED, a division of the Portuguese Health Ministry, which is responsible for the evaluation, authorization, regulation and control of human medicines as well as health products for the protection of public health.
This initiative is consistent with Aurora's strategy to achieve early mover advantage in countries with nascent medical cannabis markets. Construction of the new facility will be conducted in phases, with the first phase expected to be completed in the third calendar quarter of 2020. Upon completion, the first phase of the facility is expected to have a production capacity of approximately 2,000 kg per annum, growing to 4,000 kg per annum upon completion of the second phase.
Portugal, with a population of more than 10 million, represents an attractive market. It is part of the Eurozone, has a producer-friendly regulatory framework that encourages the establishment of domestic production, and features favourable labour costs. New Portuguese regulations enacted on January 15, 2019 permit the distribution of prescribed medical cannabis to Portuguese patients in addition to export to other European Union member countries where medical cannabis is currently legal.
"We are very pleased to be entering yet another European market, and look forward to collaborating with our joint venture partners, the government of Portugal and the Portuguese medical community, to encourage the development of a rigorously regulated and safe medical cannabis system that is well supplied and accessible to patients," said Terry Booth, CEO of Aurora. "With the addition of this new project, we are now active in 24 countries, which we believe represents the largest global footprint of any cannabis company. Aurora's reputation in the medical cannabis sector, bolstered by the high quality of our products and our commitment to medical and plant research, provides distinct advantages in establishing significant market share in the rapidly growing European market."
Dr. Axel Gille, Aurora's VP Business Development Europe, added, "The formation of this joint venture and the approval of the cultivation facility in Portugal are additional important steps in Aurora's plan to develop a strong European manufacturing presence, ensuring that patients across Europe have access to the pharmaceutical grade medical cannabis they need."
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