Ex-banker building billion dollar fortune as legal weed sweeps US

Boris Jordan is best known for his role in privatising Russian assets after fall of communism

A Curaleaf store in New York. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Curaleaf store in New York. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

 

A former Credit Suisse banker best known for his role in privatising Russian state assets after the fall of communism is capitalizing on another transformative moment, this time in the US.

Boris Jordan, 53, is getting rich from cannabis. His 31 per cent stake in Curaleaf, the biggest US pot company by market value, is worth more than $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Mr Jordan’s road to weed wealth started in 2013 when his Moscow-based private equity firm, Sputnik Group, invested in PalliaTech, a medical-device maker. He and his partners spent more than $100 million to build it into a national chain now called Curaleaf, which announced on Wednesday that it’s buying Chicago-based Grassroots Cannnabis in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $875 million.

Curaleaf runs 47 local dispensaries and 13 cultivation sites across 12 states, according to its website. It recently announced it would start selling products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabis compound, at CVS stores.

Curaleaf’s “vertically integrated business model and aggressive acquisition strategy is well-suited to succeed in the rapidly expanding US legal cannabis market,” said Kenneth Shea, a consumer industry analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Green wave

A green wave is sweeping the US, where more than 30 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, including about a dozen that permit adult recreational use. The market for legal pot in the US may more than double to $23.4 billion by 2022, according to the Arcview Group, an investment and research company focused on the cannabis industry.

Mr Jordan, a managing director at Credit Suisse First Boston in the 1990s, also runs Measure 8 Venture Partners, a pot-focused asset manager that recently launched a hedge fund to make long bets on US cannabis companies while shorting Canadian producers. He declined to comment for this story.

In May, Curaleaf bought the regulated cannabis business of Cura Partners, a maker of oil for vape pens, in a stock deal valued at about $950 million - the largest acquisition involving US cannabis companies. Mr Jordan was already an investor in Cura Partners through Measure 8.

The American grandson of Russian aristocrats who fled the Bolsheviks, Mr Jordan helped the Russian government sell off thousands of state enterprises during privatization soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The New York University graduate, while heading Credit Suisse’s Moscow office, helped develop the Russian equity market.

In 1998, he and his partners founded Sputnik Group, which now has investments in Renaissance Insurance Group and Oxford BioMedica. – Bloomberg