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Peter Thiel-backed pot stock Tilray surges

Canadian cannabis company Tilray soared Friday after Privateer Holdings, the investment firm backed by Peter...

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 5:39 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 5:39 PM

Canadian cannabis company Tilray soared Friday after Privateer Holdings, the investment firm backed by Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, said it had no plans to sell its 75 million shares any time soon.

Thiel, the billionaire most well-known for being the co-founder of PayPal (PYPL) and the secretive big data unicorn Palantir, first invested in Privateer in 2014 through his Founders Fund.

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Investors had worried Privateer might start to dump its Tilray stock once that so-called lockup period expired that would allow Privateer to sell shares. Tilray's stock is down about 70% from the all-time high it hit last July following its debut on Wall Street.

But Privateer put those fears to rest Friday.

"Privateer Holdings strongly believes in Tilray's long-term global growth strategy and pioneering role in shaping the future of the legal cannabis industry," said Michael Blue, managing partner of Privateer in a statement. "Given this, we do not have plans to register, sell or distribute the shares Privateer holds in Tilray during the first half of 2019."

Tilray (TLRY) surged more than 20% on the news. The company has a deal with Budwesier brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) to work on cannabis-based drinks in Canada and a partnership with Novartis (NVS) subsidiary Sandoz for medical marijuana.

Marijuana stocks have been extremely volatile in the past few months, following the legalization of recreational pot in Canada in October and votes in a few US states in November to legalize recreational and medical use of marijuana.

But several cannabis companies have attracted the interest of larger consumer firms. Beer and wine giant Constellation Brands (STZ), which owns Corona, has made a $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth (CGC). And Marlboro maker Altira (MO) recently bought a 45% stake in Canada's Cronos (CRON).

It wasn't all good news for cannabis companies on Friday. Aphria (APHA), another pot stock based in Canada, reported that its sales missed forecasts and announcing that its CEO and co-founder would both be stepping down. Still, its stock rose 8%.

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