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Bank of Montreal has named Tamy Chen as its cannabis analyst.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Bank of Montreal is pushing deeper into the marijuana sector by assigning an analyst to cover the space and holding its first cannabis conference at the end of May.

The bank is filling the role from within, naming Tamy Chen as its cannabis analyst. Since 2015, Ms. Chen has been an equity research associate for BMO’s consumer products team, working with analyst Peter Sklar.

The two analysts will host BMO’s inaugural cannabis conference on May 30 in Toronto. Conferences like this one are marketing events for banks, where institutional clients looking to deploy capital can connect with executives at companies looking for money to fund their growth.

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The chief executive officers of Canadian growers Aphria Inc., Aurora Cannabis Inc., Canopy Growth Corp., Cronos Group Inc. and MedReleaf Corp. are set to make presentations at BMO’s conference. The CEO of HIKU Brands Co. Ltd., known for its chain of Tokyo Smoke coffee shops that also sell clothing and cannabis accessories, will speak about retailing. Some time will be spent reviewing Germany’s medical marijuana regime, a market that several large Canadian producers are looking to expand into because of its growth prospects, reimbursement policies and potential for higher pricing.

In recent years, the Big Six Canadian banks have largely chosen not to do business with cannabis firms in Canada’s legal medical market. BMO made a splash in January when it became the first big bank to co-lead a stock sale in the sector, raising money for Canopy. In March, it co-led another equity financing – this time for Cronos. It worked with GMP Securities Inc. on both transactions, which were done on a bought-deal basis. GMP is hosting its second cannabis conference on April 19, also in Toronto.

Elsewhere on Bay Street, analyst Daniel Pearlstein has left firm Eight Capital and joined Canopy Rivers Corp. as its head of business development. The company invests in cannabis firms through a mix of equity, debt, royalty and profit-sharing structures. It is planning to go public in 2018.

Canopy owns roughly 30 per cent of Canopy Rivers, but controls the company through a dual-class share structure that gives it nearly all of the voting power.

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