FSD Pharma Names Bokhari Permanent Chief Executive

FSD Pharma has named Raza Bokhari as permanent chief executive after he impressed the board during a four-month interim stint at the firm.

Predecessor Rupert Haynes, a former GW Pharma exec, lasted just three months in the role until the board fired him in February 2019. That followed the collapse of a joint venture with Auxly Cannabis Group , which accused FSD Pharma of contractual breaches regarding a planned cultivation facility Auxly had invested in.

Bokhari was parachuted in to steady the ship during this tumultuous time, with the company still needing funding to build a $55 million Phase I expansion at its site in Cobourg, Ontario. It had cash of $22 million as of Dec. 31, 2018.

When he was hired, Bokhari pledged to deliver long-term, sustainable value for shareholders by bolstering the leadership team. Since then, shares in the firm have decreased 33%, from $0.30 to $0.20 on Jun. 3, 2019.

Management Changes

It has been a busy time for the firm, and it has certainly made a number of interesting changes over the past couple of months. Thomas Fairfull, president of wholly owned subsidiary FV Pharma, which runs the facility at the old Kraft factory in Cobourg, was replaced by Sara May.

It appointed three esteemed cannabis researchers – Daniel Piomelli, Ryan Vandrey and David Casarett – to its scientific advisory board and they will help shape its scientific and clinical development programs. Vladimir Klacar, Auxly nominated director, resigned from the board at the company’s request.

The management team now consists of Bokhari, who is chief executive and executive co-chairman; Anthony Duracz, founder and executive co-chairman; Zeeshan Saeed, founder and president; and Donal Carroll, chief financial officer; with May heading up FV Pharma and Edward Brennan leading the FSD Pharma BioSciences division.

“As interim chief executive, Dr. Bokhari has already navigated the company through some tough decisions, and he is rapidly advancing our strategic vision and mission to become a market leader in medicinal cannabis and cannabinoid pharmaceutical applications,” said Duracz. “I have no doubt in my mind that he will lead FSD to better days ahead.”

A Robust Expansion

In April, FSD Pharma received a sales license from Health Canada and it pledged to ramp up production at its Cobourg facility and invest in additional grow capacity. It also allowed Canntab Therapeutics Limited to commence sales of CBD and THC capsules. Canntab has space at the Cobourg facility as part of a collaboration and profit sharing agreement with FSD Pharma.

The firm announced plans to buy U.S.-based research and development specialist Prismic Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $17.5 million in shares. It also signed a share exchange transaction with Aura Health in a bid to expand into Germany and other European markets in efforts to secure EU GMP certification for the Cobourg facility.

FSD Pharma missed the filing deadline for its 2018 financials and Bokhari took full responsibility for the delay. It eventually announced year-end results on May 6, revealing a net loss of $32.8 million for the year, widening from £3.5 million in 2017. Over the course of the year it generated $44.8 million from financing activities and invested $18.5 million in operations, including the build-out of the Cobourg facility, plus license applications and marketing.

The Cobourg facility sits on 72 acres of land, with 40 acres ready for development and an expansion capability of up to 3.9 million sq. ft. If it manages to fund and complete a full expansion there, it would be able to produce 400,000 kg of flower per year and require 1,300 staff, but that is obviously a big if.

“We are tightly focused on developing a robust expansion plan at our Cobourg, Ontario facility under the leadership of Dr. Sara May,” said Bokhari. “Finalizing the next phase of expansion, with drawings, a construction budget and timeline is our top priority.”

The opinions provided in this article are those of the author and do not constitute investment advice. Readers should assume that the author and/or employees of Capital 10X hold positions in the company or companies mentioned in the article. For more information, please see our Content Disclaimer.

Martin Green
Martin Green is an experienced journalist with a strong focus on the cannabis, alcohol, and gambling industries. He is particularly interested in the political issues affecting the global marijuana trade, and he has a keen focus on regulation changes and legal topics. He holds a BA English Literature, MA Creative Writing and a National Qualification in Journalism diploma. He has worked in journalism since 2009 and written for a broad range of newspapers, business titles and magazines, including The Sun, The Metro, The Journal, Livestrong, Drinks Retailing News, Harpers, Sportsbook Review, Vital Football, Essex Live and Surrey Live.

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