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A Closer Look Into the Weird World of Avtar Dhillon & Emerald Health Therapeutics

Summary

  • Some of Emerald’s property is actually owned by CEO Avtar Dhillon, not by the company itself, although the company lists it as company property in its MD&A’s. This is not the first time Dhillon has done this.

  • Emerald has projected around 4-5 million sq/ft of grow space, and has had its licenses since 2014, but is still buying cannabis from third parties like Supreme while vastly under-delivering on revenue.

  • Emerald lost $17 million dollars last year to generate 978k of revenue and spent $10 million dollars on ‘general and admin’ costs last year.

 

If you are reading this in December, 2018 you have may forgotten about Emerald Health Therapeutics (EMH). They’re kind of like Slick Rick, one of the first one’s in the game, but rarely talked about anymore (sorry Rick).

We haven’t forgotten about them though, and now that The City of Richmond lifted the stop work order on Emerald Health’s CEO Avtar Dhillon’s personally owned farm(more on that below) the company should be starting to ramp up.

Emerald Health was one of the golden boys of the 2017 cannabis stock craze. The stock reached a high of $9.68 and his since nosedived down to $2.40.

The stock has since lost its sizzle and remains in the doldrums for the time being, and for good reason.

The major problem with Emerald is that it doesn’t really make money. The company also released some pretty ugly financials last week that we will get into here.

When you are spending $10 million on ‘general and admin’ costs to make $1 million in revenue, something isn’t right, especially when you have had your licenses since the get-go in 2014.

So, what have they been up to in the last 4 years?

Not much really, they have built a multitude of really nice websites and investor decks, but aside from that it’s been pretty quiet on Emerald’s end. CEO Avtar Dhillon is up to something though, more on that below.

Dhillon’s Farm =  Emerald’s Farm?

Disclosing non company assets is a big no-no, from our research we were not able to find a transaction between Dhillon and Emerald for the purchase of the farm on No.9 Rd., Richmond BC. If such an agreement exists we will retract this portion of the article immediately.

According to Richmond News, Emerald’s new Richmond facility currently stands at 75,000 sq/ft (later projected to increase to 500,000 sq/ft) and according to Richmond News is family owned by Emerald CEO Avtar Dhillon.

Emerald has always referred to this property as their ‘Metro Vancouver’ property, separate from Delta. We looked through Emerald’s MD&A’s as far back as they go and the word ‘Richmond’ does not come up once. As seen below, their Delta property which is operated by a JV through Villiage Farms (VFF) as Pure Sunfarms is always listed separate from this somewhat mysterious ‘Metro Vancouver’ property.

The reason for this is twofold, one, the City of Richmond does not want this cannabis facility to be there, and two, Emerald doesn’t actually own the property.

EMH MD&A, August 2018

EMH MD&A, November 2018

By ‘delay’, Emerald is referring to was the stop work order The City of Richmond put on them, which has since been lifted. In a feeble attempt to try and win the hearts of the people of Richmond Dhillon stated that this greenhouse may not be for cannabis, and rather for whatever is most profitable, and after taking a look at Emeralds inability to sell weed, he may have a point.

“There’s a range of products we can grow,” he said. “Whether it’s tomatoes or cucumbers or herbal remedies or nutritional items that will have greater value, like ginseng or wasabi.” 

Said Dhillon in regards to the Richmond property.

Dhillon stands on the concrete base of one of the greenhouses on his property on No. 9 Road. Crews are once again building the 75,000 square foot structures after a stop work order was lifted earlier this month. Photo: Richmond News/Megan Devlin

 

In 2017 The Richmond Sentinel also verified that Dhillon owns the farm, stating:

Avtar Dhillon and his wife Diljit Bains own a 21-acre parcel at 6980 No. 9 Road, where two 7,000-square-foot greenhouses are rising in the shadows of Lafarge’s cement tower near the south arm of the Fraser River.

We found this farm property for sale in Richmond for $1.7 million and it’s only 2.9 acres, about 1/9th the size of Dhillon’s farm.

We also found this34 acre property for $12.8 million. Based on the cost of land alone,  Dhillon’s farm would probably be valued from anywhere from $6-8 million on the open market, not to mention the 14,000 sq/ft of greenhouse currently constructed.

I guess that would go under ‘General & Admin’ if they were to someday purchase it?

The last thing I will say about Dhillon’s farm is maybe growing cucumbers is not such a bad idea as they seem to be more keen on buying cannabis from third parties than actually growing it themselves.

Leasing Land From Himself

In 2011 Dhillon took majority share in a company called Legend Mining,

Pursuant to a Share Purchase Agreement, dated July 28, 2011 among Mr. Avtar Dhillon and Mr. Tao Chen, which closed on August 17, 2011, Mr. Dhillon acquired 4,500,000 shares of common stock of the Issuer (the “Shares”) from Mr. Chen for consideration of $67,500 constituting approximately 61.22% of the Issuer’s outstanding capital stock.

A March 21, 2012 Schedule 4 filing and a concurrently filed 13D outline a major sale on February 14, 2012 of 23,777,500 shares from the Chairman Avtar Dhillon to a series of undisclosed investors and another on February 2, 2012, of 2,572,500 shares to STVF’s newly appointed CEO Robert Brooke. Both sales took place at price per share of just $0.0022.

The Emerald Health Richmond farm isn’t the only time Dhillon has done shady things with regards to real estate.

In 2011 Legend Oil merged with Stevia First Corp.

This was the land leased for Stevia on 5225 Carlson Rd. Yuba City, CA, 95993.

InSeptember 1, 2011, Stevia entered into an unsecured lease agreement with World Ranches LLC (“One World Ranches”), which is jointly-owned by Dr. Avtar Dhillon, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company, and his wife, Diljit Bains, for office and laboratory space located at 5225 Carlson Rd., Yuba City, CA 95993 for a term of five years expiring on September 1, 2016 at a rate of $1,000 per month

On August 18, 2012, Stevia entered into a lease agreement (the “Sacramento Lease”) with Sacramento Valley Real Estate, which is jointly-owned by Dr. Avtar Dhillon, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company, and his wife, Diljit Bains, pursuant to which the Company has agreed to lease an apartment located at 33-800 Clark Avenue, Yuba City, California.

This Company uses this apartment as an alternative to renting hotel rooms for management use since several of our managers are not resident in Yuba City. The month to month lease began on August 20, 2012 and the Company’s rent payment is $1,000 per month. On August 22, 2012, the Company paid $1,000 as a refundable security deposit under the Sacramento lease.

The Sutter Lease begins on May 1, 2012 and expires on May 1, 2014 and the Company has paid the aggregate amount of all rent payments thereunder, totalling $250,000. Sutter Buttes, the landlord under the Sutter Lease, is jointly-owned by Dr. Avtar Dhillon, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company, and his wife, Diljit Bains.

Aggregate payments under the above leases for the years ended March 31, 2013 and 2012 were $148,750 and $14,500, respectively.

 

Emerald’s Money Isn’t Paying For Dhillon’s Farm, So, Where Is It Going?

Earlier this year Emerald purchased Northern Vine from Abbatis (ATT), for the tune of $2 million in cash and 1 million shares.

In June Emerald made a deal with Village Farms (VFF) for 1 million sq/ft of greenhouse space in Delta, B. Emerald also has the option to “lease or purchase” two other greenhouses of similar size with close proximity the the first greenhouse. Emerald also runs a facility in Victoria with an undisclosed sq/ft size.

 

Emerald’s proposed grow space equals that of about 5 NFL football stadiums, however, the key word is proposed, and much of this proposed space came a mere 6 months ago.

Emerald: The Low Producing Producer

Last year Emerald announced a supply agreement with Supreme (FIRE), however the company has been licensed since 2014 to do everything a licensed producer needs to do to be successful, so why are they buying Supreme’s product this late in the game?

Let’s say that Emerald is in fact growing their own product and selling it, why is their revenue so low?

In 2017 they sold $658,000 vs $978,550 in 2018 with a net loss of $17 million. Supreme on the other hand, (who got their licenses 2 years after Emerald) did $8.8 in revenue last year with a net loss of only $7.3 million.

Despite the vast mathematical differences, Emerald has a $351 million dollar market cap and Supreme has a $390 million dollar market cap.

Unsexy Products

Emerald also lists on one of their websites that Emerald Health Bioceuticals was launching in the US, we have not been able to find sales figures on the success of this campaign, but based on Emerald’s financials it didn’t really go that well. It seems like people in the US are buying sexy brands like Plus Products (PLUS) rather than the science based approach Emerald touts.

The only thing related to Emerald Health Bioceuticals that we could find in Emerald Health Therapuetics, (not to be confused with Emerald Health Botanicals…if you’re lost in the sea of Emerald Health (insert buzzword here) subsidiaries don’t worry) was the acquisition of Northern Vine Labs from the only other company who uses the word bioceuticals, Abbatis.

In an interview with Midas Letter Dhillon was asked if there any interesting partnerships upcoming with regards to branding, his response was a very suggestive ‘stay tuned’.

We’re still waiting.

Emerald pulled a strange move earlier this year with regards to the British Columbia MOU’s, it stated it wasn’t interested in participating in selling cannabis in its home province as it was not one of the 31 initial choices from the BC government. Whether that is actually true or not we will never know, but in a strange move a couple weeks later Emerald was accepted by the province of British Columbia.

 

Disclaimer: Why We Do Pieces Like This

We are very critical of companies on this site.

Why? Because most companies have huge promotion budgets to deploy which leaves a Google search full of positive accolades from paid promoters that newer retail investors may not be able to spot, making their research process a headache. Our mission is to bring attention to the other side of the story, the one that doesn’t get promoted.

But things are changing, our highest traffic pieces are ones like these that call out companies for their poor behaviour, our friends at Equity Guru and The Deep Dive have also gained serious of traction with a similar mindset.

We called out The Green Organic Dutchman (TGOD) earlier this year to the tune of 12,000+ organic clicks from Facebook, ie no marketing budget or ad spend.

On Monday we wrote about the recent Bridgemark fiasco which put 11 companies in direct contact with a heap of sketchy consultants and firms. One of the companies that came up in the Bridgemark investigation done by the BCSC was Abbatis (ATT).

When we wrote about Sean Dollinger and Namaste being, well just plain weird the article went to the #1 spot on Google for the keyword ‘Sean Dollinger’ for 8 weeks.  We also recently did a piece on Ben Ward and The Wayland Group.

Not only have we been critical about Namaste, there are a number of cannabis companies we have tossed under the bus for being sketchy.

This proved to us that honest journalism does have a place in the market, we are not afraid to make enemy’s here, in fact we have made a few of them along the way and plan to make even more in the future.

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