P Diddy gets out of a marijuana deal
P Diddy gets out of a marijuana deal

Diddy Dodges a Bullet - Sean Combs Gets Out of a Bad Cannabis Deal as Cresco Labs and Columbia Care Call Off Merger Plans

Did P. Diddy just get let out of the worst deal of his life by two MSOs calling off a merger plan?

Posted by:
Joseph Billions on Friday Aug 4, 2023

sean combs marijuana deal breakup

Cresco Labs and Columbia Care, both major players in the cannabis industry, have officially called off their planned $2 billion merger, as announced in March 2022. According to a recent news release, the termination comes without any associated costs. The decision was made considering the changing landscape in the cannabis sector, with Cresco Labs believing that this move is in the long-term interest of the company and its shareholders, as stated by Charles Bachtell, the CEO and co-founder of Cresco Labs.


The deal's closure deadline had already been pushed back twice, with the latest extension set for June 30. However, the companies announced on June 30 that they had not divested overlapping assets, a requirement from marijuana regulators in several states. Consequently, the termination also affects the companies' plans to sell assets in Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York to rapper and business mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, resulting in the termination of this deal, effective July 28. The sale to Combs would have created the largest Black-owned marijuana multistate operator in the United States.


As they say, sometimes blessings come to those who wait, and time delays and industry conditions may have saved Diddy millions in overpriced assets. Cannabis.net covered the initial Diddy deal here and asked if Diddy was the "sucker in the room" as it appeared he drastically overpaid for cannabis assets in Massachusetts and New York. Thankfully, with the end of the Cresco Labs and Columbia Care merger, his own cannabis deal for those assets in now terminated.  He may be able to come back in and get the same assets at 50% of what he agreed to pay less than a year ago.


Meanwhile, Columbia Care underwent internal restructuring earlier this year, streamlining its operations by laying off 25% of its corporate employees and closing some facilities. The company's CEO, Nicholas Vita, expressed confidence in the significant strategic and operational strength achieved during the past 16 months, positioning them well in the company's history at this pivotal moment. As both companies move forward separately, the decision to abandon the merger reflects the shifting dynamics and complexities within the rapidly evolving cannabis industry.


Understanding the Factors Behind the Deal's Termination


According to a spokesperson for Cresco, the companies faced challenges in divesting assets in Florida and Ohio as required during the spring and summer. These difficulties were primarily due to the tough capital landscape, with financing falling through multiple times. The U.S. cannabis industry has been grappling with high-interest rates, low share prices, slow federal marijuana reform, inflation, and wholesale cannabis price compression, making it challenging to attract investment dollars into the sector.


Matt Bottomley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, stated in a July 31 newsletter that the macro-level challenges in various U.S. markets and limited investment interest in the industry made the necessary asset dispositions less appealing than initially anticipated. The negative market conditions have impacted the share prices of major players in the industry, including the AdvisorShares Pure US Cannabis ETF, which saw a significant drop from $20 in March 2022 to slightly above $5.


Before the announcement of the Cresco-Columbia deal in March, the share prices of Cresco Labs and Columbia Care experienced considerable declines. Citing these difficulties, equity analysts were not surprised by the termination of the deal. The operational downturn, combined debt of a merged company and challenges in divesting assets, led to slim prospects for the deal's success. The assets' reduced values and potential buyers' difficulty securing funds further complicated the situation, making the termination an expected outcome, as noted by Owen Bennett, senior vice president of equity research at Jefferies Group.


Combs Global's Unwavering Dedication: Advocating for Diversity in Cannabis Sector


Establishing the nation's first Black-owned cannabis Multistate Operator (MSO) hinged on the successful closure of the deal between Cresco Labs and Columbia Care. Combs Global, led by the renowned rapper and business mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, had agreed to purchase production and retail assets for up to $185 million in November of the previous year. The potential creation of a minority-owned operator, led by such a prolific and impactful entrepreneur, was deemed momentous and highly promising for an industry needing greater diversity of leadership and perspectives, as stated by Cresco's Charles Bachtell at the time of the announcement.


However, following the termination of the Cresco-Columbia deal, the plans for the creation of the Black-owned cannabis MSO have also ended. Despite this setback, Combs Global President Tarik Brooks affirmed that the company remains committed to exploring opportunities in the cannabis industry and advocating for diversity. While the specific deal that would have facilitated the creation of the groundbreaking Black-owned operator may not have materialized, Combs Global's dedication to pushing for inclusivity and diversity within the cannabis sector remains unwavering.


Cresco Labs and Columbia Care Forge Ahead


Cresco Labs has announced its new focus on "swift restructuring of low-margin operations, improving competitiveness, and driving efficiencies in markets where we maintain leading market share, and scaling operations to prepare for growth catalysts in emerging markets," as stated by Charles Bachtell in a statement. The company aims to optimize its operations and position itself for growth opportunities amidst the rapidly evolving cannabis landscape.


On the other hand, Columbia Care provided a more detailed outline of its achievements thus far in the year and its plans for the third quarter in a separate news release. The outlined initiatives include pursuing uplisting to a senior U.S. exchange and consolidating its shares onto Cboe Canada (formerly known as the NEO Exchange) while delisting from the Canadian Securities Exchange. Additionally, Columbia Care plans to complete a corporate restructuring plan and finalise discussions with the largest holders of its 13% senior secured notes due in May 2024 for an exchange into the company's 9.5% senior secured notes due in February 2026 on a one-to-one basis. The company also aims to close the sale of a 36,000-square-foot cultivation facility and retail outlet in downtown Los Angeles. It has made key additions to its executive team by appointing David Hart as president and chief operating officer and Jesse Channon as chief commercial officer.


Nicholas Vita, CEO of Columbia Care, expressed enthusiasm for the next stage of the company's growth and expansion, with the past 16 months of uncertainty behind them. The renewed energy and dedication of the team position Columbia Care for a promising future in the cannabis industry.


Bottom Line


The planned $2 billion merger between Cresco Labs and Columbia Care has been officially called off due to changing dynamics in the cannabis industry. Facing challenges in divesting assets in Florida and Ohio, the companies decided to terminate the deal, resulting in the cancellation of plans to create the country's first Black-owned cannabis Multistate Operator. Despite the setback, Combs Global remains committed to exploring opportunities and advocating for diversity in the cannabis sector. Both Cresco Labs and Columbia Care are now focusing on optimizing their operations and pursuing growth opportunities individually. As the cannabis industry continues evolving, companies adapt their strategies to navigate the complex landscape.





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