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Oct 25, 2018

Bank of Montreal CEO says expect volatility in pot sector for years

BMO CEO doesn't rule out acquisitions for more U.S. growth

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Bank of Montreal’s chief executive said he expects the cannabis sector will be ripe with volatility and disruption for years, just days after Canada legalized the drug. 

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Amanda Lang, Darryl White described the newly-legalized marijuana sector as a “really disruptive market.”

“We’ve got new entrants coming into it every day, and we have a value chain that’s not completely sorted out yet right now,” White said, pointing to the experiences of other new markets, including the technology sector in the 1990s and the junior mining industry.

“If you’re asking whether we should expect to see volatility as you go through the evolution of a new business model, the answer is absolutely, we’re going to see disruption for some time. I expect that to be years, not months.”

BMO has emerged as the most aggressive of Canada’s big banks in the cannabis industry. BMO Capital Markets was the exclusive advisor to Aurora Cannabis Inc. on its $2.9-billion deal to buy MedReleaf in May, and also helped arrange a $200.7 million equity financing for Canopy Growth Corp. in January.

Meanwhile, White said the bank plans to add one million new customers in personal lending– not only by attracting new immigrants, but also by taking market share from its rivals.

“In the major markets where we have good participation, we think we can capture a high share of that … We haven’t done a good enough job in the last five years,” White said.

“It’s an ambitious goal, we've stated it as a stretch goal – but we think we’ll be able to do it.”

Cannabis Canada is BNN Bloomberg’s in-depth series exploring the stunning formation of the entirely new – and controversial – Canadian recreational marijuana industry. Read more from the special series here subscribe to our Cannabis Canada newsletter to have the latest marijuana news delivered directly to your inbox every day.