Behind Portland’s blockbuster marijuana deal: a Russian billionaire, cannabis consolidation

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A billion dollars for a Portland marijuana company.

It’s an astonishing figure. Last month’s deal for Cura Cannabis was the biggest acquisition in the history of legalized marijuana in the United States. It’s a sign of just how quickly the market is emerging. And that’s just the beginning of the story.

Curaleaf, the Massachusetts company buying Cura’s recreational marijuana business, is backed by a Russian billionaire whose fortune helped fuel its rise. Investors value the startup at nearly $4 billion and project its value to rise by 20 percent when the all-stock deal for Cura closes.

That would make Curaleaf more valuable than all but three public companies in Oregon, were it based here, despite reporting less than $80 million in revenue last year along with a $56 million loss.

The marijuana market is an industry in flux, caught between its underground roots and a new era of enormous commercial potential. It’s consolidating rapidly as early players like Cura and Curaleaf, both with highly unorthodox corporate histories, race to lock in an early advantage.

Like other new industries, though, the cannabis business is coping with enormous uncertainty and rapid change. [Read more at The Oregonian]