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On top of significant growth in the North American market, leading cannabis operators are expanding their businesses in Europe this year. Firms including Curaleaf, Tilray, and Aphria have ramped up M&A activity to break into major medicinal use markets like Portugal and Germany.

Additionally, regulatory reforms focused on cannabis in Latin America and Asia promise to open up even more global growth opportunities going forward.

Related ETF & Stocks: ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ), Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (CURLF), Canopy Growth Corporation (CGC), Tilray, Inc. (TLRY), Aphria Inc. (APHA)

US cannabis giant Curaleaf (CURLF) is expanding its business into Europe via a $286 million deal to acquire European cannabis company Emmac Life Sciences Limited. Emmac Life Sciences is a leading vertically integrated European cannabis company operating in several European medical cannabis markets, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Curaleaf has been one of the fastest growing cannabis titans over the last year and is now the largest US operator in the business.  Along with announcing their Emmac acquisition, the company reported strong earnings for the final quarter of 2020. Revenue grew 26% sequentially and 205% YoY to $230.3 million. The company also saw fiscal year adjusted EBITDA of $144.1 Million, up 456% from 2019.

As Yahoo Finance notes, the deal is particularly interesting as it now places Curaleaf in more direct competition with Canadian giants Aphria (APHA) and Tilray (TLRY) who recently teamed up and flaunted a strong European presence as a competitive edge.

European Cannabis Business Expanding

MRP highlighted Tilray’s foray into Portugal way back in 2019, when it started growing its plants in the country. Along with debuting its products to Portuguese consumers in February, Tilray reached a deal with Spain-based Worldpharma Biotech to export its GMP-certified medical cannabis to Spain through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tilray Portugal Unipessoal Lda or Tilray Portugal.  The company also entered into an agreement with UK-based medical cannabis distributor Grow Pharma to import and distribute Tilray’s medical cannabis products into the UK.

Following those deals, Nasdaq reports Tilray was selected by the French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products or ANSM to supply GMP-certified medical cannabis products for experimentation in France.

Though cannabis remains illegal in France, it is still a market to watch for cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that treats pain but doesn’t get you high, considering the country now counts some 400 CBD shops, according to the SPC alliance of hemp professionals. That is nearly four times the number that were operational before a government crackdown on marijuana two years ago, representing a market worth 150 million to 200 million euro ($180-$240 million).

At the end of 2020, Tilray announced a merger with fellow Canadian Aphria, Inc. to expand their international operations in Europe. That deal will be closed at some point in Q2. For Tilray, Aphria brings a cultivation facility in Germany to the table, plus a prescription business that’s connected to 13,000 German pharmacies and others throughout Europe.

Once the Tilray-Aphria tie-up is complete (Tilray will be the surviving entity), the combined entity will be the largest cannabis provider by sales, boasting roughly $700 million of annual sales – surpassing Curaleaf’s $653 million.

Germany represents Europe’s largest medical cannabis market, and the world’s third-largest behind the US and Canada, respectively. Imports of medical cannabis flower into Germany hit record highs in Q4 of 2020, importing 3,264 kilograms of medical cannabis flower, the largest amount for any quarter to date and…

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