Exclusive Interview with NewLake Capital Partners CEO David Weinstein and President and Chief Investment Officer Anthony Coniglio
Anthony Coniglio last spoke with New Cannabis Ventures in April 2020 as the CEO of name NewLake Capital Partners (OCTQX: NLCP). Since then, the cannabis real estate company has acquired GreenAcreage Real Estate Corp. and gone public. Now, Coniglio is the President and Chief Investment Officer of the combined companies, operating under the name NewLake Capital Partners, and David Weinstein is the company’s CEO. Weinstein and Coniglio checked in with New Cannabis Ventures to talk about the merger, the company’s portfolio and the recent IPO. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
Bringing Together Two Leadership Teams
Weinstein has a broad background in real estate. He served as the CEO of the public REIT MPG Office Trust and spent about a decade working in real estate investment banking at Goldman, Sachs & Co. He has also been a private investor for about 10 years. He sat on the board of GreenAcreage before stepping up to take over management of the company. He and Coniglio worked to bring together GreenAcreage and NewLake.
The company’s leadership today is a blend of talent from both teams. Fred Starker, the CFO of GreenAcreage, is now CFO of NewLake. Jarrett Annenberg, who co-founded NewLake with Coniglio, is the company’s Director of Acquisitions.
The NewLake and GreenAcreage Deal
NewLake and GreenAcreage merged with the intention of forming a preeminent player in the cannabis industry, according to Weinstein. The deal made sense with the companies’ respective portfolios and credit. The team is looking to build more scale and to further diversify the combined portfolio. Following the merger, the team took the company public, raising $101 million in its IPO. Both teams were excited about the companies’ shared goals, and the integration process was largely seamless, according to Weinstein.
NewLake is a triple net lease REIT. The company collects rent, and its investors receive quarterly dividends. The REIT’s transactions include fully built and operational facilities, retrofits and build-to-suit deals, according to Coniglio. NewLake acquires both industrial and retail properties. Thus far, most of its transactions have been done in limited license markets.
When considering a potential investment, NewLake looks at a few key variables. First, the team considers how a transaction will diversify its portfolio. Next, it examines the quality of the prospective tenant, including the management team and the company’s credit. NewLake also looks at the real estate’s location and the licensing environment of the market in which the real estate is located.
Thus far, NewLake has largely focused on limited license jurisdictions, but the REIT is open to opportunities in other markets. For example, the team is having conversations about potential deals in California and Colorado.
NewLake has a robust investment pipeline, according to Coniglio. More markets are coming online and existing markets are maturing, driving demand for capital across the industry.
The REIT closed its IPO in August. Gaining access to public capital was critical in helping NewLake to meet the demands of its existing tenants and the growing need in the industry at large. NewLake and GreenAcreage combined raised more than $300 million in the private markets, but that process is generally slower and more expensive, according to Coniglio. The company wanted access to more institutional investors to continue scaling.
NewLake is listed on the OTC, but it is operating to qualify for a listing on the NASDAQ or NYSE. The company will look to uplist when there is regulatory relief for exchanges or federal legalization, according to Coniglio.
NewLake’s Position in the Cannabis Market
NewLake has been competing to get its 27 properties over the last three years in the cannabis industry. Some of the competition that was in the space a year to 18 months ago no longer exists, according to Coniglio. Reliability and consistency have been essential to building a track record. Competition still exists, but the market is big, and there is room for a number of players to be successful, according to Weinstein. Access to capital is important for meeting the needs of existing tenants and executing transactions.
Working with Investors
Both NewLake and GreenAcreage had a mix of private retail investors and institutional investors. NewLake today has a combination of those two categories as well, expanding its investor base through its IPO.
The REIT aims to form relationships with its investors through active dialogue. The team participates in interviews, holds roadshows and makes information easily accessible, according to Coniglio.
Investor interest goes beyond the players actively participating in the space today. Once federal legalization moves forward, investors are likely to flock to the cannabis space. NewLake believes it will have first-mover advantage when that happens, with relationships and knowledge built over its years in operation prior to federal legalization.
This regulatory shift will also mean the value of the REIT’s properties will accrete, and the credit quality of all of its tenants will improve with the elimination of 280E. Once cannabis companies can accept credit cards, the tenants in NewLake’s portfolio will have improved cash flow, further boosting credit quality.
While federal legalization is an exciting prospect, the timeline remains uncertain and federal legalization will mean cannabis companies will need to adapt to new regulations.
Thus far, NewLake has had no rent deferrals or rent abatement within its portfolio. The NewLake team also looks at the four-wall coverage ratio, a traditional retail metric that measures the amount of cash flow a property generates to cover its rent. While three and a half times rent coverage is a strong number, NewLake’s industrial and retail properties are generating five, six, seven times rent coverage, according to Coniglio.
NewLake will continue to have opportunities to put its capital to work and realize returns, but the REIT will need to carefully navigate the industry’s regulatory shifts and consolidation trends. The team will need to understand the credit of the tenants it does transactions with, according to Weinstein.
To learn more, visit the NewLake Capital Partners website. Listen to the entire interview:
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