Slang Worldwide Inc. (SLNG), the owner of several popular cannabis brands including O.penVape, is about to go public.
The company is due to begin trading at C$1.50 a share Tuesday on the Canadian Securities Exchange, giving it a market valuation of about C$540 million ($407 million).
Slang was created by Peter Miller and Billy Levy, the two entrepreneurs that founded Virgin MEGA and Virgin Gaming, now owned by Nike Inc. (NKE) and Cineplex Inc. (CGX), respectively, with British business magnate Richard Branson. In cannabis circles, Miller and Levy are best known as the brainchildren of medical marijuana company Mettrum Health Corp, which was sold to Canopy Growth Corp. (WEED) for C$430 million ($324 million) in 2017.
Miller and Levy have since been busy building up Slang’s portfolio of products. Last year, they acquired National Concession Group, better known as Organa Brands, the owner of O.penVAPE, the second-best selling U.S. legal cannabis product, according to data from research firm BDS Analytics. They also bought NWT Holdings, the maker of Firefly vape pens.
Those acquisitions reflect Slang’s ambitions to focus on brands and distribution, rather than grow its own pot and open retail stores. The company is keen to tap in on cannabis shifting from an agricultural product to a consumer-packaged good and plans to expand its reach into to 10 more states before the end of the year, according to Bloomberg, doubling its current exposure. Slang currently sells its products in 2,600 stores.
“The best brands tied to the best distribution networks will ultimately be where the most value is created,” Miller told Bloomberg in a phone interview. “Ultimately we care about one thing and pretty much one thing only, and that’s getting the most servings of cannabis into the world with our brands on them.”
Slang has now turned to public markets to help fund its ambitious plans. The money raised from its initial public offering will also be used to bankroll expansion in other countries in Europe and Latin America.
Slang’s 20% ownership of Agripharm Corp. a private licensed cannabis producer, means it has operations in Canada, too. Canopy also owns a large stake in licensed cannabis producer Agripharm through its subsidiary Spectrum Cannabis Canada Ltd.
According to Bloomberg, the world’s biggest marijuana company has an agreement in place enabling it to acquire a further 32 million shares in Spectrum, or about 15 percent of the company, if the U.S. legalizes cannabis at the federal level. That agreement is reportedly tied to a collaboration deal that would see Canopy and Slang work together on distribution, marketing and research.