Canopy executive compensation surged following cannabis legalization

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Then-co-CEO Bruce Linton welcomes media to a new visitor center at Canopy Growth's Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont., Aug. 23, 2018.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Canopy Growth Corp.'s top six executives saw their total compensation rise to a combined $ 28.5 million payout last year, a period that was first released in October.

Nearly 90 by the Smiths Falls, Ont., Company said Friday in a regulatory filing ahead of its annual meeting on Sept. 17.

The executives received a combined $ 11.3 million in fiscal 2018 and $ 4 million a year earlier.

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Bruce Linton, who was ousted as co-CEO earlier this year, received $ 9.33 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, up from $ 2.52 million a year earlier. It included $ 8.56 million in option-based awards, a $ 450,000 bonus, $ 318,000 salary and $ 3,568 in other compensation.

He also received $ 1.5 million payout after being terminated without cause as of July 2. All of Linton's uninvested options immediately vested upon his termination and remain exercisable until their original expiry date, said the filing.

Linton was fired in a statement from shareholder Constellation Brands Inc., which invested $ 5 billion last November, that was "not pleased" with Canopy's year-end results.

Constellation owns at 35.55 per cent stake in the Canopy and has the right to nominate four directors to Canopy’s board.

CEO Mark Zekulin, who was previously president and co-CEO, received $ 5.96 million in last year compensation, including $ 5.2 million in options, at $ 500,000 salary and a $ 250,000 bonus. That was up from almost $ 2.5 million in fiscal 2018.

Zekulin said this week that he would be leaving the company "once a suitable CEO is found."

Former chief financial officer Tim Saunders received $ 5.93 million in last year compensation. He retired in June but remains a strategic adviser.

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Acting president Rade Kovacevic, chief legal officer Phil Shaer and chief information officer Ru Wadasinghe each received more than $ 2.4 million in compensation.

The circular proxy was released a day after the company 's shares fell 14.5 per cent and touched their lowest level this year after quarterly results were released that suggested the cannabis producer lost market share. They are partially rebounded by gaining $ 1.39 or 3.8 per cent at $ 37.80 in Friday afternoon trading.

The company missed expectations as it reported $ 90.5 million in revenues in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, up from $ 25.9 million a year earlier when recreational marijuana was still illegal in Canada. Compared with the quarter before, sales were down by about $ 4 million.

Zekulin said Thursday that Canopy has grabbed 25 per cent to 33 per cent of the market and expects to maintain and increase its market share, and grows that will mean increasing revenues.

Canopy said that two of its directors waived their right to receive compensation last year, while the five others received between $ 216.682 and $ 356.230. Chris Schnarr, who resigned Nov. 1, received nearly $ 7.4 million in compensation, primarily from $ 7.1 million in option-based awards.

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