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The former CEO of Bank of Nova Scotia subsidiary Tangerine Bank has taken the reigns of CannTrust Holdings Inc.

Peter Aceto joined the Vaughan, Ont.-based cannabis producer on Monday, replacing Eric Paul, who has become the company’s chairman of the board and special adviser to management.

Mr. Aceto’s appointment is latest in a string of high-profile c-suite and board appointments across the industry, as cannabis companies tap traditional business expertise and connections ahead of a period of rapid expansion.

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“I think the industry needs to attract those people from outside in order to have it be as successful and responsible as I think it ultimately will be," Mr. Aceto said. “There’s a lot of things that needed to be figured out, and CannTrust was of the view that it would like to add leadership depth to its team."

Mr. Aceto was CEO of ING Bank of Canada – which was sold to Scotiabank and rebranded as Tangerine Bank in 2012 – from 2008 to 2017. Before that, he helped launch ING Group’s Canadian subsidiary in 1996, and worked closely on the bank’s expansion in the United States in the early 2000s.

"My time with ING was to some extent involved with the launch of ING Direct in many countries around the world. And I think all of these things are very relevant to a business like CannTrust,” Mr. Aceto said.

Mr. Aceto, a lawyer by training, said he’d been eyeing the cannabis industry for some time, attracted by the challenges and opportunities presented by the speed with which companies are transitioning from startups into large consumer goods companies. He was introduced to CannTrust around two months ago through mutual acquaintances.

"Its reputation globally and on the Street for quality, and for caring about its medical customers I think is enviable," said Mr. Aceto, explaining his decision to join CannTrust, one of Canada’ largest licensed producers.

Moving from the relatively stable world of banking to the roller-coaster ride that is the cannabis industry, however, required significant thought, said Mr. Aceto. “It’s absolutely something I would have discussed with my wife.”

“There is a lot of volatility in the space,” he added. “But I joined CannTrust because it has a long-term vision on what it would like to be in two, three, four years from today, and that's my mindset. So the volatility you might see day-to-day, week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter, I'm going to do my best to not be influenced by it… I take a longer term view about this industry, how big it can possibly be, and the role CannTrust can play in this ecosystem.”

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It’s early days for the new CEO (he only got his CannTrust e-mail on Monday, for instance), and Mr. Aceto has yet to sketch out any grand visions for the company. But he did suggest that partnerships would be particularly important in the future.

CannTrust already has a research and development partnership with generic drug giant Apotex Inc. Mr. Aceto suggested more agreements are in the pipeline.

“I’m certain that is a part of the future here at CannTrust, and there are some discussions that are going on as we speak, and I’m just beginning to learn about them today," he said.

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