Marijuana. Picture: THINKSTOCK
Marijuana. Picture: THINKSTOCK

Investment holdings company Labat Africa will acquire a stake in Biodata, a technology and medical research company focused on the cannabis industry.

Labat will acquire 70% of Biodata, its latest move in strengthening its foothold in the cannabis industry, which is estimated to be worth R27bn.

Biodata, which was initially set up as a holistic healing enterprise incorporating cannabinoids, is well positioned to begin clinical trials on pain management and insomnia, Labat said.

Labat said the research conducted by Dr Shiksha Gallow, Biodata’s medical director, will be an enhancement of Labat’s nutraceutical and pharmaceutical offerings.

“The proposed acquisition of Biodata provides Labat Africa with additional medical and pharmaceutical infrastructure in support of its health-care strategy. Gallow and her team will also provide expertise and value to Labat Africa’s endeavours to developing the company’s drug master files for the selected alkaloid active ingredients,” Labat said.

While SA mulls over whether it should allow the up-scheduling of codeine-based products due to the significant abuse and the impact on health-care costs, Labat said it sees as an opportunity to invest in cannabis alkaloid based clinical trials, hence the acquisition of Biodata.

In 2019, Labat became the first listed company in Africa to venture into cannabis through the acquisition of Zarenka Group, a Lesotho-based cannabis grower and manufacturer. Labat established an fully integrated cannabis business with the objective of gaining its foothold in the cannabis market and its value chain.   

Labat also bought shares in a genetic cannabis breeding and cultivating business Knuckle Genetics as well as packaging company Pac-Con, which specialises in the manufacturing and packaging of liquids, tablets, capsules, creams and gels.

Labat said the acquisition was less than 5% of its market capitalisation, which was R144.3m on Tuesday.

“Labat Africa is pleased to welcome on-board a group of leading experts in the cannabis industry who are committed to ensuring SA takes its rightful place on the world stage in the field of cannabis innovation and scientific excellence,” the company said.

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