Canada's Aphria to buy rival Nuuvera for $670 million

(Reuters) - Canadian cannabis company Aphria Inc said Monday it would buy rival Nuuvera Inc for C$826 million ($670 million), ahead of a raft of medical cannabis approvals around the world over the coming years.

The transaction comes less than a week after another takeover created the world’s biggest weed company by market value and as Canada, which has allowed medical marijuana since 2001, gears up to legalize recreational use by mid-2018.

The deal would help Aphria expand its footprint to 11 countries including Germany, Italy and Israel, and its offer of about C$8.50 per share represents a 21 percent premium to Nuuvera’s closing price on Friday.

Just days earlier, the marijuana industry saw its biggest deal ever, when Aurora Cannabis said it would buy CanniMed for C$1.1 billion. .

The two deals brought the total value of marijuana-related mergers and acquisitions to $1.87 billion so far in 2018. That’s triple the 2017 total, which itself was a record, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Aphria shares were down 4.5 percent at C$19.30 on Monday, after having jumped almost three-fold in the past three months. Nuuvera shares jumped 12.1 percent to C$7.81 in morning trading.

The anticipation of a surge in demand, both at home and overseas, has fueled a deal-making, capital-raising frenzy in the industry and propelled stocks to fresh peaks.

While that has prompted fears of a bubble and calls for corrections from analysts, the sector has so far continued on its upward path.

($1 = 1.2335 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Nichola Saminather in Toronto and Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D’Couto and Bernadette Baum