Aphria chief executive and co-founder stepping aside from executive roles

Aphria Vic Neufeld

Irwin Simon, the company's newly-appointed chairman, also spoke during the conference call, noting that he sees many similarities between the cannabis industry and the natural organic sector that he first worked in almost three decades ago.

"Now with legalization and globalization, including a huge market opportunity with positive developments in the U.S., Aphria's next generation of leadership may take the reins", Neufeld said in a release.

The forensic analysis firm Hindenburg Research, as part of the short seller attack on Aphria, suggested that the company is "part of a scheme orchestrated by a network of insiders to divert funds away from shareholders into their own pockets".

Vic Neufeld and Cole Cacciavillani, the CEO and the co-founder of Leamington cannabis company Aphria Inc., will step down from their executive positions, announced the company on Friday morning.

"During this transition period, we're going to work hard to benefit from their mentorship", he added. In the three months to November 30, it booked $22-million in net revenue, selling 3,409 kilograms of cannabis.

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Aphria shares climbed 5.7% in pre-market trading in NY on Friday.

One of the largest cannabis companies in Canada, Aphria's stock was hammered a few months ago by allegations from short sellers that the company bought numerous assets in the Caribbean and Latin America at grossly inflated prices, created to enrich insiders. Neufeld said on Friday that an independent committee of directors with no relationship to Green Growth will review any formal offers.

Aphria's report did not acknowledge the recent announcement of a hostile takeover bid by US -based retailer Green Growth Brands. Aphria responded by saying the offer significantly undervalued the company. "I look forward to working with them to further build Aphria's leadership team and continue driving long-term value for our patients, customers and employees into the future".

Revenue for the company's second quarter totaled C$21.7 million ($16.4 million), up from C$13.3 million ($10 million) the quarter before and C$8.5 million ($6.4 million) in the same period previous year. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were looking for adjusted earnings of 0.02 Canadian dollars on revenue of 28.77 million Canadian dollars. Aphria said that the increase in net income was due to gains on its long-term investment portfolio, primarily divestitures of positions in Hiku Brands and Liberty Health Sciences. The company said that the higher revenue in the quarter was driven by a 92% increase in kilogram equivalents of cannabis sold and an additional C$1.6 million of non-cannabis global sales.

"The entire industry has not met the expectations of provincial regulators", Neufeld said on Friday, but noted that many of those supply chain issues "have now been worked out".

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