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Then-co-CEO Bruce Linton welcomes media to a new visitor centre at Canopy Growth's Tweed facility in Smiths Falls, Ont., on Aug. 23, 2018.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Canopy Growth Corp.’s top six executives saw their total compensation surge to a combined $28.5 million payout last year, a period that included the first months since cannabis was legalized in October.

Nearly 90 per cent of the payout to the six top officials was in the form of option-based awards, the Smiths Falls, Ont., company said Friday in a regulatory filing ahead of its annual meeting on Sept. 17.

The executives received a combined $11.3 million in fiscal 2018 and $4 million a year earlier.

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Bruce Linton, who was ousted as co-CEO earlier this year, received $9.33 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, up from $2.52 million a year earlier. It included $8.56 million in option-based awards, a $450,000 bonus, $318,000 salary and $3,568 in other compensation.

He also received a $1.5-million payout after being terminated without cause as of July 2. All of Linton’s uninvested options immediately vested upon his termination and remain exercisable until their original expiry date, said the filing.

Linton was fired in the wake of a statement from shareholder Constellation Brands Inc., which invested $5 billion last November, that it was “not pleased” with Canopy’s year-end results.

Constellation owns a 35.55 per cent stake in Canopy and has the right to nominate four directors to Canopy’s board.

CEO Mark Zekulin, who was previously president and co-CEO, received $5.96 million in compensation last year, including $5.2 million in options, a $500,000 salary and a $250,000 bonus. That was up from almost $2.5 million in fiscal 2018.

Zekulin said this week that he would be leaving the company “once a suitable CEO is found.”

Former chief financial officer Tim Saunders received $5.93 million in compensation last year. He retired in June but remains a strategic adviser.

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Acting president Rade Kovacevic, chief legal officer Phil Shaer and chief information officer Ru Wadasinghe each received more than $2.4 million in compensation.

The proxy circular was released a day after the company’s shares fell 14.5 per cent and touched their lowest level this year after quarterly results were released that suggested the cannabis producer lost market share. They partially rebounded by gaining $1.39 or 3.8 per cent at $37.80 in Friday afternoon trading.

The company missed expectations as it reported $90.5 million in revenues in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, up from $25.9 million a year earlier when recreational marijuana was still illegal in Canada. Compared with the quarter before, sales were down by about $4 million.

Zekulin said Thursday that Canopy has grabbed 25 per cent to 33 per cent of the market and expects to maintain and increase its market share, and as the market grows that will mean increasing revenues.

Canopy said that two of its directors waived their right to receive compensation last year, while five others received between $216,682 and $356,230. Chris Schnarr, who resigned Nov. 1, received nearly $7.4 million in compensation, primarily from $7.1 million in option-based awards.

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