BMO Expands Pot Financing With $150 Million Aurora Loan

(Bloomberg) -- Bank of Montreal is diving deeper into the cannabis industry, providing Aurora Cannabis Inc. with the largest loan yet to Canada’s fledgling sector, as legalization looms in October.

The bank will provide C$200 million ($150 million) in debt financing, marking its position as the most aggressive of Canada’s biggest banks in the cannabis industry. In May, the lender advised Aurora Cannabis on its C$2.9 billion all-stock bid to buy MedReleaf Corp., and helped arrange a stock sale by Canopy Growth Corp. in January.

The loan was secured by Aurora’s production facilities to finance expansion. The Edmonton, Alberta-based company estimates it will produce more than 100,000 kilograms (220,000 pounds) of cannabis per year, and is slated to deliver its first harvest this week.

The debt facility includes a C$150 million term loan and a C$50 million credit facility, both maturing in 2021, according to a statement from Aurora Tuesday. The pot company will pay an interest rate of more than 4 percent per year. After Canada legalizes recreational marijuana, which is slated to happen in October, Aurora can request an additional C$45 million. Toronto-based Bank of Montreal is Canada’s fifth-biggest bank by assets.

Aurora’s shares fell 2.7 percent Tuesday and are down 1.8 percent this year.

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