US cannabis operators on Canadian exchanges: Q&A with Cboe Canada’s Erik Sloane

November 27, 2023 · MJ Biz Daily

The Toronto Stock Exchange isn’t the only tier one Canadian exchange for U.S. cannabis companies looking to raise capital outside their home turf.

A growing number of multistate operators have chosen another tier one exchange, the Toronto-based Cboe Canada exchange, instead of the more junior Canadian Securities Exchange.

Cboe (pronounced “see-bow”) Canada was known as the NEO Exchange before its 2022 acquisition by Cboe Global Markets, the parent company of the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

These days, Cboe Canada is home to several U.S. marijuana operators: The Cannabist Company Holdings (formerly Columbia Care), Glass House Brands, Gold Flora Corp. Tilt Holdings and Verano Holdings.

Erik Sloane is Cboe Canada’s chief revenue officer, having served in the same position with the NEO Exchange before the Cboe acquisition.

MJBizDaily caught up with Sloane to learn more about what Cboe Canada offers U.S. cannabis companies, its listing requirements for American MSOs and the possibility that Cboe Canada-listed marijuana operators in the United States could eventually list on Cboe Global Markets’ U.S. exchange in the event of federal MJ reform.

For other U.S. cannabis companies who might be considering listing on Cboe Canada, what’s your pitch?

It is a pathway to a senior exchange or a tier one exchange or a mainboard exchange, depending on the country you reside in, where a company can ultimately have access to the broadest investor base possible.

Senior exchanges are index-eligible.

They’re institutional investor-eligible, and they have higher governance, higher controls, higher standards expected and required of their companies, which really forces the company into the highest-level regime of disclosure about their business to their investors.

So for companies that are growing, needing more access to capital and being asked to move onto a senior market, we are an option for them in Canada – and specifically (for) MSOs, absolutely.

The key messages for them: It’s about service orientation.

Work with an exchange that wants to work with you, helping them on identifying best practices, great partners they can work with, how to run the capital-markets side of their business while in Canada.

(It’s about) sharing data, sharing intelligence about their business, who’s buying, who’s selling their stock, picking up the phone – that service orientation is very critical for us.

We don’t require MSOs, or any other company for that matter, to restructure their business to list with our exchange in Canada.

Obviously, there’s a number of things we need our MSOs to comply with in order to list with us in Canada.

But broadly speaking, we want to work with their company in their current state. We’re not requiring a special structure.

As you said, you allow U.S. cannabis companies to list on Cboe Canada without having to undertake a restructuring to segregate their U.S. plant-touching assets like the TSX requires. How does that work?

For us, the way that becomes addressable is, all of our plant-touching MSOs have acquired U.S. legal opinions on their business.

And that has been filed as a part of their listing application work with our marketplace. Prior to (the acquisition by) CBOE, we did the same thing with the NEO Exchange.

And that’s how our team gets comfortable that our operators are legal, licensed, and on-side (with) the rules that we have in our listings manual.

Verano President Darren Weiss previously told MJBizDaily that his company “got commitments from Cboe Canada that, as soon as there was an avenue, that the gates would open on the Cboe U.S. side and give us immediate access, without having to do anything, to a true U.S. exchange with significant market share.”

Can you explain how that would work?

In addition to being a world leader in derivatives options and futures, (Cboe Canada parent company Cboe Global Markets) also owns stock exchanges around the world.

In the United States, Chicago is home base for our cash-equities exchange, where we are a national stock exchange with similar rules and a listings manual equivalent to the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq.

When you look at our business, you know us for options – we’re perhaps lesser-known for our stock-trading business, but it is something that we are very much putting on the map with our listings platform.

And the first press release we pushed out was the announcement of a Canadian company (Abaxx Technologies) listed on our exchange in Canada, that would seek to “intralist” on our U.S. exchange and join Cboe in the U.S.

That is really where we see the universe moving toward – good Canadian companies that want to raise capital in the U.S., that maybe are U.S. businesses today and came to Canada to grow and raise capital and expand their capabilities as they can. They are then going to be faced with a choice in the U.S.: Where do I want to list, which exchange do I want to work with?

And our whole business unit, our whole business model, is geared around being one single global stock-exchange operator for a company, anywhere they want to raise capital.

If it’s Canada and the U.S. – like many good Canadian companies do, they want to reach the U.S. markets – rather than start a new relationship with another stock exchange, we would love to put Cboe front and center for that company in Canada and in the U.S. and have one global team to help them access capital markets.

So that same mechanism by which Abaxx listed in the U.S. could also apply to Verano?

It could, yes. Obviously, the same rules and regulations that are stopping U.S. exchanges today from (listing) what are otherwise good U.S. companies, certainly they (apply to) Cboe in the U.S. as well.

Are you expecting more U.S. cannabis MSOs to list on Cboe Canada in the near future?

We obviously hope so. I think Verano has been a leader in this, next to The Cannabist Co., formerly Columbia Care – they were one of our first in the space, if not the first to list with us, many years ago.

Having Verano move to our market was a tremendous validation of our capabilities in Canada to service this industry.

We hope the other issuers take a good look at our capabilities to service their needs north of the border as well.

We’re working hard to have those conversations now as a team to attract more business to our markets. That is absolutely our goal. (Full Story)

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