Aphria shares soar on reported talks with Altria for possible equity stake

LEAMINGTON, Ont. — Shares of Aphria Inc. soared on Wednesday in the wake of a media report that said U.S. tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. was in talks with the licensed cannabis producer to acquire an equity stake.

The Leamington, Ont.-based cannabis grower’s stock rose more than 15 per cent on Wednesday afternoon to close at $20.06.

The stock surge came after the Globe and Mail published a report on the discussions between Aphria and the Virginia-based tobacco producer and marketer, citing multiple sources.

Aphria said in a statement late Wednesday that while it engages in discussions with potential partners or investors at times, there is no agreement, understanding or arrangement in place with a potential investor at this time.

The news report comes one week before Canada moves to legalize cannabis for recreational use on Oct. 17 and after other traditional industries have expressed interest in players in the Canadian marijuana sector.

In August, beer, wine and spirits producer Constellation Brands in August signed a deal to invest $5-billion into Canopy Growth Corp., increasing its stake in the cannabis producer to 38 per cent.

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