Harry Karelis’ next cannabis gig is at former tech-wreck 1 Page — now delisted in Australia and soon to be known as European Cannabis Corporation.
Mr Karelis stepped back from a hands-on role at biotech Zelda (ASX:ZLD) in January, where he remains chair, and is now chairing the German-focused company. He also helped launch AusCann (ASX:AC8).
He and partner-in-cannabis Andrew Chapman from Perth financier Merchant Group plan to list European Cannabis on the AIM in London between September and November this year.
“Chappie and I started our cannabis adventure together about five years ago which makes us grand-daddies of the industry, globally,” he told Stockhead.
“I’m pretty active in starting up companies and getting them to a certain level and stepping back.”
He didn’t want to publicly reveal the market cap they’re aiming for, but says by the time they list, the new company should be delivering the same level of revenue as all of the ASX pot stocks combined, and have an equivalent market cap.
Stockhead’s list of 31 pot stocks and cannabis wannabes have a combined market cap of about $1.6 billion. The 17 doing purely or mostly cannabis have a combined market cap of about $1.5 billion.
From dot com bomb to pot stock
1 Page signed on to buy German cannabis drug maker HAPA Medical Group in February last year, as way to use the $23 million it had in the bank and reform from the tech disaster it had become.
Led by founder Joanna Riley, Silicon Valley based 1 Page surged 70 per cent on its ASX debut in 2014 — and then rapidly rose more than 2500 per cent to $5.69 in September 2016, amid intense speculation.
By March 2017, however, the stock had dropped all the way back to 15.5c as Mrs Riley tried — and failed — to roll the board. It was described by the board at the time as “her intention to continue to burn cash”.
Ms Riley ceased as a substantial shareholder in August when she sold $2.6 million in shares. In December, she stepped down as CEO “to focus on strategy and business development”.
The company was delisted in July last year, promising existing investors a big payoff for their patience, but in another country. At the time Mr Chapman was considering Frankfurt or Canada for a listing.
Mr Chapman told Stockhead last week they chose the AIM because of the UK’s recent move to legalise medical cannabis, the novelty of cannabis in that market compared to Canada, and because of its proximity to their new operations.
Selling drugs in Germany
Mr Karelis says HAPA is now a multi-million euro revenue business and will be cash flow positive this year. When they bought in last year, it was still a startup.
HAPA grows its own cannabis and turns it into branded products.
But in the German market, cannabis has to be mixed into a final form by the pharmacist selling it.
In order to beat the only other company in Germany selling pharmaceutical-grade oils, Canadian giant Tilray, the ex-Bayer team in the country have added a few perks to make their business more attractive to pharmacists.
One is a room-temperature-stable oil (Mr Karelis says Tilray’s has to be refrigerated); a low-dose beginners option (he says Tilray’s starts at 10mg THC and cannabidiol, their’s at 2.5mg); and cheap testing.
Mr Karelis also asserts that before a sale German pharmacists must test the THC and CBD concentration of the product, which costs about €100 and takes three to five hours.
Pharmacists that use HAPA products get a kit like those the police use on roadside tests and takes a couple of minutes, and is effectively free for them.