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Aurora Cannabis names new CEO, to book up to $1.4 billion in charges

By Arunima Kumar

(Reuters) - Aurora Cannabis Inc on Tuesday named Miguel Martin its chief executive officer, tasking the insider to turn around the troubled pot producer, and said it would book up to C$1.8 billion ($1.37 billion) in restructuring charges.

U.S.-listed shares of the company fell 8.2% as its fourth-quarter net revenue forecast of C$70 million to C$72 million came below analysts' average estimate of C$76.8 million, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

For most weed producers in Canada, which legalized recreational cannabis in October 2018, profits have proven elusive due to fewer-than-expected retail stores, cheaper rates on the black market and slow overseas growth.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also made it harder for the cash-strapped industry to get investor dollars and forced companies to shut stores.

In response, Aurora has laid off hundreds of employees this year, shut five facilities and amended its loan agreements.

The company said on Tuesday Martin would replace interim CEO Michael Singer, who took the helm after the exit of founder and chief executive officer Terry Booth in February. Singer will stay on as executive chairman.

To rein in costs and reach profitability, the Alberta-based company also ended its partnership with mixed martial arts franchise Ultimate Fighting Championship.

"Aurora wants to portray having a plan, but we are not sure a concrete action agenda has yet been developed," said Bill Kirk of MKM Partners.

David Kideckel, an analyst at ATB Capital Markets, said he remains cautious on the stock in the near term, but recognizes the company's efforts to steer the ship in the right direction after past missteps.

Aurora is slated to report its fourth-quarter financial results after the close of markets on Sept. 22.

($1 = 1.3155 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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