Picture: 123RF/TYSON ANDERSON
Picture: 123RF/TYSON ANDERSON

Moscow/New York — A former Credit Suisse banker best known for his role in privatising Russian state assets after the fall of communism is capitalising on another transformative moment, this time in the US

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

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 $100m 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 $875m.

US-listed shares of Curaleaf advanced 17% to $7.61 at 9.58am in New York. The stock has surged about 60% this year, giving the company a market value of $3.4bn.

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 Health 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.

A green wave is sweeping the US, where more than 30 states have legalised 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 $23.4bn by 2022, according to the Arcview Group, an investment and research firm focused on the cannabis industry.

Jordan, an MD 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 $950m — the largest acquisition involving US cannabis firms. Jordan was already an investor in Cura Partners through Measure 8.

The American grandson of Russian aristocrats who fled the Bolsheviks, Jordan helped the Russian government sell off thousands of state enterprises during privatisation 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.

With Tom Maloney, Devon Pendleton and Sophie Alexander

Bloomberg