The biggest name in cannabis is taking a tech venture public

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The man behind the world’s biggest publicly traded pot company is taking another venture public.

Bruce Linton, co-founder of Canopy Growth Corp., the Smith Falls, Ontario-based cannabis company with a market value of C$14.8 billion ($11.3 billion), is also co-chairman of Martello Technologies Group Inc. The software services company begins trading Wednesday on the TSX Venture Exchange through a reverse takeover under the symbol MTLO.

Linton shares the chairmanship with Terry Matthews, who has founded or funded dozens of tech companies including Mitel Networks Corp., which agreed to be acquired earlier this year by Searchlight Capital Partners in an all-cash deal worth about $1.35 billion. Linton has known Matthews for about 30 years.

Martello had a market value of about $25.7 million based on 171.9 million shares outstanding at the close of the RTO. Each share was priced at 15 cents apiece, according to Linton. Canopy, then known as Tweed Marijuana Inc., had a market value of about C$29 million when it began trading in April 2014.

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Acquisitions will be Martello’s primary focus now that it’s publicly traded, said Linton, who was CEO of the company for six years before handing the reins to John Proctor, former vice president of global cyber security at CGI Group Inc.

“Our revenues were growing, the number of targets we could buy was increasing and the cost of our currency was too high when we were private,” Linton said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We’re now at the stage where we can go public and then we can make more acquisitions at a lower cost per shareholder and a higher certainty for the companies we’re buying.”

Linton said Ottawa-based Martello has looked at “somewhere north of 60 entities,” signed non-disclosure agreements with 18 to 20 of them and has narrowed that down to a list of seven or eight potential takeovers.

Martello’s technologies manage and optimize communications network performance. The company, with 61 employees, reported second-quarter revenue of C$1.9 million and a loss from operations of C$1.1 million.

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