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UPDATE: Tilray and Budweiser maker will partner to research weed drinks; Tilray stock jumps

9:58 am ET December 22, 2018 (MarketWatch)

By Max A. Cherney

Tilray and Anheuser-Busch to spend up to $50 million apiece on joint venture, Tilray CEO says company was not interested in direct investment

Marijuana producer Tilray Inc. announced Wednesday that it has signed a research partnership with Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, as the Canadian cannabis industry continues to strike deals with legacy industries.

The joint venture will run through Anheuser-Busch's (ABI.BT)subsidiary Labatt Breweries of Canada, and each company intends to invest up to $50 million to research beverages infused with tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and cannabidiol, or CBD. THC is the compound that produces psychoactive effects, whereas CBD does not -- though it has other properties some see as beneficial.

Tilray said that the partnership is limited to Canada, and that the two companies will make decisions about developing products from the research in the future.

"For us, it's early days in this industry and research feels like the right place to start," Tilray Chief Executive Brendan Kennedy said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning. "At Tilray, we've been performing research and develop for almost five years on lots of different aspects of cannabis and cannabinoid delivery."

Don't miss: Weed beer is near, and it's gonna get weird (

Tilray's stock opened more than 13% higher Thursday following the announcement, adding to gains from a different partnership revealed earlier this week. The company revealed a global distribution deal with pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG ( Tuesday morning.

Beyond research into aspects of cannabis such as how long it takes the effects to become apparent and how low it lasts -- some of such research Tilray has already undertaken -- the joint venture will also explore how pot products are packaged, how production can be scaled and the recipes for creating new products.

The goal, says Kennedy, is to understand how to create and produce "iconic and responsible cannabis infused beverages and brands" that will arrive in product formats will likely be new to the industry.

Unlike rivals such as Cronos Group Inc. (CRON.T) , (CRON.T) which took a $1.8 billion investment from Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. (MO) , and Constellation Brands Inc.'s (STZ) $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth Corp., (WEED.T) (WEED.T) Kennedy said Tilray was not interested in an investment from its partner, and is not seeking to be being bought or acquired at this point.

A guide to pot stocks: What you need to know to invest in cannabis companies (

"We obviously want to partner with other global pioneers and other leaders in their respective sectors," he said. "We think it's too early to give up control of our own destiny. Other companies have bought two of our competitors in this industry and it's far too early for a transaction like that."

Tilray's volatile stock soared to more than $200 ( from its initial public offering price of $17, but has retreated since that big bouncer. Shares have declined 12% in the past five days, though rose more than 10% Tuesday after Tilray announced the Novartis partnership. The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ) has lost 6.7% in the past five days, as the S&P 500 index has fallen 2.9%.

-Max A. Cherney; 415-439-6400;

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 22, 2018 09:58 ET (14:58 GMT)

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