Performance shares deliver windfall

06/06/2017 - 11:55

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The directors of medicinal cannabis companies Creso Pharma and AusCann Group Holdings have reaped windfall gains worth $13 million after the vesting of performance rights and performance shares.

AusCann chairman Mal Washer.

The directors of medicinal cannabis companies Creso Pharma and AusCann Group Holdings have reaped windfall gains worth $13 million after the vesting of performance rights and performance shares.

The biggest winner was Creso co-founder and chief executive Miri Halperin Wernli, who secured an extra 5.25 million shares in the ASX-listed company at no cost after the vesting of her performance rights.

The new shares were worth just above $4 million at the time of vesting, though their value has slumped sharply since then as the share price has fallen.

Creso director Boaz Wachtel was another big winner, after getting an extra 4.5 million shares at no cost.

The performance rights vested because Creso’s share price had held above 40 cents for 20 consecutive trading days and it obtained registration of one of its products.

Dr Halperin Wernli holds a further 1.75 million performance rights and Mr Wachtel a further 1.5 million; these will vest once the company achieves gross sales of $500,000.

AusCann’s directors received extra shares after their company was granted a licence to cultivate medicinal cannabis in Australia.

This triggered the vesting of 28.2 million performance shares and 2.8 million performance rights last month.

The holders of the performance shares included non-executive director Harry Karelis (2.5 million), chairman Mal Washer (2.1 million) and chief executive Elaine Darby (1.9 million).

Their performance shares were collectively worth $3.8 million at the time of vesting. However, like Creso, AusCann’s share price has slumped during the past two months.

Auscann’s regulatory approval has been matched by at least half a dozen other companies.

Other licence holders include ASX-listed Cann Group (which has two licences for cultivation and research), private company Tasmanian Botanics (three licences), Queensland company Medifarm (one) and the Australian Institute for Medical Cannabis (one).

More are likely to follow, as the federal government’s Office of Drug Control has disclosed it was assessing about 40 medicinal cannabis applications as at May 1.

Melbourne-based Cann Group announced last week it had moved a step ahead of its competitors, completing the second stage of the regulatory approval process by obtaining permits for research and cultivation.

Other medicinal cannabis companies to have listed on the ASX also includes Zelda Therapeutics, MMJ Phytotech and MGC Pharma.

Creso stock is currently trading at 50 cents per share, down 5 cents for the day but up strongly from a low of 39.5 cents last week, while AusCann is trading at 40 cents per share, down 1.5 cents for the day

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