Cannabis companies have been going public, merging, and acquiring competitors in a race for a competitive edge as cannabis legalization continues to sweep the globe.
According to a report from the cannabis accounting and advisory firm MGO|Ello, there were 300 strategic acquisitions worth $8.4 billion in the cannabis space in 2018, up from just $54 million in 2013. All that jockeying within the industry has led to a boom for investment bankers, who help companies raise money, go public, and pursue M&A.
Under its former CEO, Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth was perhaps the most active of publicly-traded cannabis companies, as it landed a $4 billion investment from the beer giant Constellation Brands, and orchestrated the first Canada-to-US cannabis acquisition with its complex deal to acquire Acreage Holdings.
US cannabis company Curaleaf is hot on its heels, having closed two near-billion-dollar acquisitions in the past six months. Because most cannabis startups can’t access traditional venture capital, many raced to go public through a process known as a reverse merger last year on the Canadian Securities Exchange to fund their growth — providing a windfall for the bankers who orchestrated these deals.
Most of the fees from these and similar deals are flowing to boutique and midsize Canadian investment banks (cannabis is federally legal in Canada) that took the initial risk of working in an industry with a hazy regulatory structure in the US. Federal illegality has frozen the biggest US banks from competing on these deals, and most still remain on the sidelines.
Canaccord Genuity, a midsize Canadian investment bank headquartered in Toronto and Vancouver, has grabbed the largest share of fees from the cannabis industry, according to data from Dealogic. As of September 23, Canaccord has netted $122 million in fees from cannabis deals across equity capital markets, M&A, debt capital markets, and loans, amounting to an 18% share of all fees generated from cannabis deals.
While the top-tier US banks are mostly sitting on the sidelines for now, some, like Goldman Sachs, have advised existing clients on cannabis deals.
In an effort to figure out who’s making money on these deals, Business Insider put together a list of the top dealmakers in the cannabis industry, based on Dealogic data. We then conducted additional reporting to identify the top cannabis bankers at those firms.
This chart is up-to-date as of September 23. It shows the top ten banks working on cannabis deals and an estimate of how much money they’ve made in cannabis since 2015, primarily from deals and stock offerings.