Bruce Linton’s time at the top of Canopy Growth Corp. is over, but his run as CEO allowed him to amass one of the larger personal fortunes in Canada’s newly legal cannabis industry.
Mr. Linton’s total wealth from Canopy comes to more than $200-million, mostly from ownership of a major stake in the company. Stock-ownership records show Mr. Linton owns slightly fewer than 2.5 million shares of company stock worth $131-million at Tuesday’s closing price of $52.49 and more than 600,000 stock options worth just less than $20-million. His departure from Canopy was announced on Wednesday.
Insider-stock records show Mr. Linton has sold about $28.8-million of Canopy shares since 2016. He exercised an additional $18.1-million worth of stock options, most in a series of transactions last week.
His cash compensation totalled $1.87-million through the spring of 2018. His cash severance, while undisclosed on Wednesday, likely totals around $1.1-million, based on company disclosures.
He also owns $6.2-million worth of stock and options in Canopy Rivers Inc., an investment company spun off from Canopy last year.
To arrive at the numbers, The Globe and Mail reviewed Canopy’s proxy circulars and stock-sales records filed in SEDI, the Canadian system for insider disclosure. Canopy has not yet filed a circular for the fiscal year ended March 31, so elements of Mr. Linton’s compensation and severance may remain unknown until August, when the next circular is expected, or later.
Unlike many chief executives who receive millions of stock awards as compensation, Mr. Linton’s acquired the bulk of his Canopy shares came when he exchanged his ownership in Tweed Marijuana Inc. for Canopy stock in 2014. At the time, he became a 10-per-cent owner of Canopy, with about 3.5 million shares owned. Since 2016, he’s sold about 1.1 million of the shares on the open market. That means he held on to the majority of that stake even as the shares skyrocketed from less than $3 to more than $75 in the days before Canada’s legalization in October, 2018.
While Mr. Linton has extolled the virtues of stock options for the employees of Canopy, the company granted few to Mr. Linton, likely in view of his already significant stake. Canopy granted Mr. Linton 250,000 options in 2016, 500,000 options in 2017 and 250,000 in February of this year.
Mr. Linton performed his CEO services via a consulting contract with his personal company, HBAM Holdings Inc., which also holds most of his Canopy shares. According to Canopy disclosures, the company can terminate the contract with HBAM for any reason as long as it pays HBAM two years worth of Mr. Linton’s consulting fees and bonuses. Mr. Linton’s unvested stock options, which are options that he had not stayed as CEO long enough to use, become usable if he’s terminated.
“In these things, you get to retain everything you have so from Bruce’s perspective, it doesn’t have any particular financial positive or negative,” Mr. Linton said on Wednesday, referring to himself in the third person. “It is just that Bruce really likes having microphones and meetings and business cards.”
Canopy’s 2018 circular said it raised Mr. Linton’s fee to $25,000 a month, or $300,000 a year, on April 1, 2018, and it paid him a $300,000 bonus for the fiscal year that had just ended. He made $16,667 a month, or $200,000, in the year that ended March 31, 2018.
With a report from Jameson Berkow