Barry’s Lambert’s Ecofibre plans local IPO

Press Release June 7, 2018

Ecofibre, the industrial hemp company chaired by Rich Lister Barry Lambert, plans to list on the ASX later this year.

It is in the final stages of a pre-IPO raising, with funds slated to expand its business, including the development of its high-tech fibre textile, Hemp Black.

Chief executive Eric Wang – formerly Perpetual chief operating officer – is garnering institutional investor support and has secured backing from IMF Investors, among others. Based on the latest $10 million investment round, Ecofibre is valued between $125 million and $135 million.

“[The] fund raise is going well,” Mr Wang told The Australian Financial Review. “

“We have a great pool of high net worth investors, so I’ve been focused on institutions, which help move us towards an eventual IPO. We will have three well-established businesses by the time that happens.”

“The fundraising will be used for US Nutraceutical business Ananda Hemp, it’s a business growing significantly in terms of sales and patients in the US (available in 800 stores across 30 states). The funds will also accelerate our Hemp Food business in Australia. Lastly, it will support the development for Hemp Black.”

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“The fundraising will be used for US Nutraceutical business Ananda Hemp, it’s a business growing significantly in terms of sales and patients in the US (available in 800 stores across 30 states). The funds will also accelerate our Hemp Food business in Australia. Lastly, it will support the development for Hemp Black.”

Performance apparel

Mr Wang said Hemp Black will eventually become the biggest part of its business. It will launch women’s running tights and sport bras in the East Coast of the US in April. It is also planning launches in the athleisure wear category and possible healthcare and military applications.

Hemp Black is akin to Gore-Tex used in performance apparel.

“It’s about using the technology in clothing,” Mr Wang said. “We have a special process we use for hemp that allows it to keep its wickability, it’s thermal regulation, and anti-bacterial properties. In addition, it allows the garment to conduct currents and that allows for connected body regulation, like what we call passive monitoring.”

Mr Wang added Ecofibre plans on leveraging its relationships from Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University. In 2016 Barry and Joy Lambert donated $3 million to support its Centre for Medical Cannabis Education and Research. This was on the back of the philanthropists’ gift of $34 million to the University of Sydney for what is called the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics.

Mr Lambert is known for building Count Financial, which he sold to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for $373 million in 2011. But later in life he has helped spearhead the fight to legalise medical marijuana in Australia. His grand-daughter suffers from a rare form of child epilepsy.

Mr Lambert said Ecofibre was preparing for a float. It has converted to a public company status and the founder has stepped down.

Critical of Regulation

While the federal government recently approved the export of medicinal cannabis products such as oils, sprays, tablets and patches, and in November it legalised hemp as a food source, Mr Lambert remained critical of Australian regulation.

“The government prefers to not explain the difference between hemp and marijuana, and so the minute everyone thinks about cannabis, the average Australian thinks about marijuana … because there is no hemp grown here. We are a hemp business, not marijuana businesses,” he said.

He added the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Office of Drug Control are “living in the past, all surrounded buy paranoia over marijuana”.

Mr Lambert is quick to point out the difference between hemp and marijuana: they are both part of the cannabis family – but the THC (the chemical which gets you high) is from the flower and leaves, it is not from the seeds.

In 2016, Ecofibre moved its commercial operations to Kentucky, due to tight regulations in Australia.

Mr Wang explained Ecofibre does not enter into JV’s or partnerships and owns all IP and control across its consumer facing brands.

“All of the genetic IP comes from Australia but due to the extremely unattractive markets and regulations in Australia (especially by the TGA for medicinal purposes) we have moved the majority of our commercial operations overseas,” he said.

Medicine Crops

In 2016-17 Ecofibre has grown over 2000 acres in the US, Australia and Uruguay for the purpose of commercial medicine crops, commercial food crops, commercial fibre crops, seed multiplication for future capacity and trial crops for R&D purposes.

Ecofibre has raised some $30 million from private investors including fund manager Chris Cuffe, Fred Marishel, Erica and George Gregan, executives from investment banks, and entertainment personalities.

“As a retired dentist I am well aware of the history of cannabis-based products and the plant’s use for a whole host of natural medicines over the millennia,” Mr Marishel said.

“I look forward to the reintroduction of cannabis-based pain relievers and for the plant to resume its rightful place as an effective and non-toxic pain medication available freely.”

Mr Wang said listing was not always a long-term goal, although he admitted a liquidity event is always something important for an investor.

“This was never about listing and creating a quick dollar,” he said. “It’s about wanting to create access and affordability for the local population.”

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Video August 7, 2018 Read More

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Videos

Why Kentucky farmers are quitting tobacco and turning to an unlikely new crop

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/kentucky-agriculture-banking-hemp

Video August 30, 2018 Read More

Commissioner Quarles and Senate Majority Leader McConnell Visit Ananda Hemp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98Bh6EQK9Rg
Video August 30, 2018 Read More

Ag News Daily, Interview with Brian Furnish

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngEFNp7KGH8
Video August 30, 2018 Read More

Push to legalize medical cannabis in Australia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-jwkldU4HM
Video August 7, 2018 Read More

Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell Supports Hemp

Video March 26, 2018 Read More

Attachments

The Australian

View the press release here

Video August 29, 2018 Read More

Barry’s Lambert’s Ecofibre hemp company plans to list this year

View the press release here

Video June 7, 2018 Read More