Cilo Cybin to try again with SA cannabis IPO

Five months after pulling a planned initial public offering South African medical cannabis company Cilo Cybin plans to try again — this time with the backing of Malaysian biotechnology firm ALPS Global Holdings.

ALPS Global will underwrite a Cilo Cybin special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, with R54 million and take a majority stake in the Pretoria-based company with the aim of listing it on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange by mid-year.

“The underwriting of the SPAC will allow the firm to list by way of introduction on the Alternative Exchange in Johannesburg,” said Gabriel Theron, Cilo Cybin’s founder, in an interview.

“Following that, we plan a second raise in dollars, tapping into the ALPS network in Malaysia and Singapore.”

Cilo Cybin is the first South African company to win the right to grow, process and package cannabis goods, and will manufacture different products for ALPS that focus on wellness, biotechnology and medical services.

Its initial attempt to list failed after capital raising was slower than anticipated and negotiations then began with ALPS, which says it’s valued at about $1.3 billion.

The SPAC will be used to buy Cilo Cybin’s existing pharmaceutical unit, which cultivates cannabis strains with high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana plants.

One of those is Durban Poison, a strong strain of cannabis that’s well-known locally.

“Our interest in Cilo Cybin is the potential for future drug development that can be produced for diseases such as Parkinson’s,” said ALPS chief executive officer and founder, Tham Seng Kong, in the same interview. “Cannabis is only the beginning.”

Cilo Cybin is named after the psychoactive substance in magic mushrooms, which it plans to use to research and market products.

The SPAC deal will result in ALPS holding about 85% of the cannabis entity, including its existing 10% stake. The general public will hold 10% of the listed entity and Theron the balance.

ALPS plans to list in New York on the Nasdaq toward the end of the year, Tham said.


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