Change at the Top March 2021 – TerrAscend
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Press releases of a CEO departing aren’t always news. Orderly transitions occur all the time, and are triggered for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the CEO gets bored. Sometimes a different person is needed as a company’s focus or maturation demands a different skill set.
Most of all, the world of formal commerce usually likes to do these things with notice, and give leadership changes (especially in the captain’s chair) an air of stability, and calm prudence on behalf of the corporation.
An announcement out of the blue that the CEO is gone on the same day a fiscal year’s financials are reported does none of that.
TerrAscend’s ($TER) Ackerman is out, founder Jason Wild is in. At least temporarily. $TER’s press release is insightful, as the guy talking (Richard Mavrinac) apparently needs to offer his bona fides to speak to someone else’s bona fides:
“As the only TerrAscend Board member who pre-dates Jason Wild’s start as Chairman and lead investor in 2017, I have witnessed firsthand how he has shaped and grown TerrAscend….”
Why did Ackerman lose his parking spot? None other than interim CEO Wild advises:
” I’d like to thank Jason Ackerman for his contributions as CEO and Board Member during his time with TerrAscend. Unfortunately, there were differences in philosophy over management style and culture, and the Board and I decided it is in the best interest of the Company for us to part ways.”
When I first got out of business school, I honestly believed the world of commerce was a rational, ‘adult’ place. Where emotions and ego were subordinated to the profit ethos. That naivety was erased months into my first gig at a clearinghouse. Money and power and titles can drive all of the emotion and ego the human animal possesses.
I don’t know what caused this one day change in heart by Wild, but the clarity of ‘who’s on top’ here intimates a deep schism. The ‘unfortunately’ suggests he feels bad. Not bad enough to not fire the guy it seems.
The very personal and first-person “I decided” tells us exactly who owns and runs the place. And the announcement on the day of the financials indicates whatever those philosophical differences that surfaced came about in the last quarter (perhaps during the audit), or, perhaps this first quarter’s results. One thing that doesn’t happen in a company that’s on track and executing is a change of CEO and initiation of an executive search.
At a guess, Ackerman pitched a path that got him the role, and Wild (with Board in tow), agreed to let him do it. And now – wherever they’re at – that path didn’t take them to where they thought they were going.
To believe the literal words says they’re at a point where a couple of big decisions need to be made, and there was a large difference of opinion in what they should do now.
I think the real reason stems from their last 3 filings on SEDAR – all early warning reports about changes in beneficial ownership. They detail how Canopy ($WEED) has fully entered $TER’s picture, and I’m guessing that’s what changed Wild’s ‘philosophy’.
The initiation of warrants last March by Canopy, and the increase in ownership announced a month ago, followed by the disgorgement of $RIV’s interest – I think Constellation ($STZ) is pulling an Acreage here, and dumping a guy they don’t want. Perhaps they didn’t like what they saw in Ackerman, or it could be that Ackerman simply didn’t want to kiss the ring.
I am very interested in looking at $TER’s year end now. And I think we may have got a hint about some use of that $750MM loan $WEED just took out.
If there’s one hallmark of how $STZ works: they’re loud, brash, and all elbows and knees. This move by $TER fits that perfectly.
The preceding is the opinion of the author, and is in no way intended to be a recommendation to buy or sell any security or derivative. The author holds no position in $TER