Edmonton

Aurora Cannabis cuts 500 jobs across company, CEO steps down

Aurora Cannabis is laying off some 500 workers and replacing CEO Terry Booth, who has stepped down, the company said Thursday. 

Company halted construction on 2 facilities in November

Terry Booth has stepped down as CEO of Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis in a corporate restructuring that is also seeing about 500 workers lose their jobs. (Terry Reith/CBC)

Aurora Cannabis is laying off some 500 workers and replacing CEO Terry Booth, who has stepped down, the company said Thursday. 

The Edmonton-based cannabis giant said in a statement it has eliminated close to 500 full-time equivalent staff across its operations. It also said the board of directors will expand as part of the restructuring. 

"While there is still much work to be done, the timing is right to announce my retirement with a thoughtful succession plan in place," Booth said in the statement.

Executive chairman Michael Singer has been named interim CEO by the board.

It was not immediately clear which positions would be affected by the layoffs. Aurora operates in 25 countries in areas including cannabis research, production, wholesale and retail. 

"These changes … should clearly demonstrate to investors that Aurora has the continuity, strategic direction and leadership it needs to transition from its entrepreneurial roots to an established organization," Booth said. 

A year ago, the cannabis sector was booming and stock prices were skyrocketing.

But much has changed and some analysts now forecast many bankruptcies by the end of the year. There are currently about 200 cannabis companies in the Canadian market, with annual sales totalling around $1 billion.

In December, two of them, AgMedica and Wayland, were granted creditor protection.

Aurora operates in 25 countries in areas including cannabis research, production, wholesale and retail. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Aurora said it intends to reduce spending for the second half of its 2020 fiscal year to bring capital expenditures below $100 million.

In November, Aurora announced it would halt construction of two production facilities to save more than $190 million as part of a plan to strengthen its balance sheet.

Shelving the Aurora Nordic 2 facility in Denmark was expected to save about $80 million. The company said it would indefinitely defer completion of construction and commissioning at its facility in Medicine Hat, Alta., to save another $110 million.

The company's shares closed at $2.67, down 15 cents, on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday. The 52-week high for Aurora shares was $13.67.

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