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Rua reflect on a year of milestones

After launching on the New Zealand stock exchange, Gisborne-based medicinal cannabis company Rua Bioscience is still 20 percent owned by people in Tairawhiti, shareholders were told this week.

Speaking at the company's annual shoreholders meeting in Gisborne, chairman Trevor Burt said the 2020 financial year had been a “transformational” one for Rua Bioscience.

We have achieved a number of major milestones, such as listing on the NZX, signing a sales agreement with a distributor in Germany, securing our commercial licence and supplier partners, developing our people, building facilities, working toward regulatory compliance and developing IP.

“Of course, our recent and most significant milestone was the achievement of GMP certification of our manufacturing facility in Gisborne on September 28 and the announcement of our first product that we will take to market.”

“We have 2901 shareholders in total. Not surprisingly, most are New Zealand-based, with 97.59 percent of our shareholders living in New Zealand.

“The interesting thing is the concentration of shareholders in this region, Te Tairāwhiti, where 37.23 percent of our shareholders by number live and account for almost 20 percent of our shareholding by value.

“We have a deep connection to this region and its people, and we recognise the history of support for Rua from the hundreds of local shareholders all through the coast.

“We have a diverse range of shareholders, with some large institutions and funds through to individuals around the country, many of whom had never invested in listed company shares before and were the original supporters of the Hikurangi Cannabis Company.”

Mr Burt said the company's top 10 shareholders represented around 63 percent (86 million) of the 141.7m shares on issue.

“The balance, about 52m shares, is held by roughly 2900 very diverse shareholders.”

Chief executive Rob Mitchell said Rua anticipated having its first product available for New Zealand patients as a prescription-only medicine early in “calendar year 2022” and its first export products available for German patients late in calendar year 2022.

“This is later than originally anticipated and for a number of reasons beyond our control. For example, while we were working on GMP, validation samples destined for Melbourne and Canada were held up in international Customs for 51 days, delaying GMP certification progress for domestic and export products.

“The next step for domestic sales is completing Medsafe's new medicines application process and the Ministry of Health's quality standard assessment. It's difficult to know how long it will take to navigate that process, but we are confident these time frames are appropriate, taking into account the lessons we have learned to date.

“In terms of being self-sustaining, we believe we'll need three products in the market. However, timeframes depend on the uptake of products in the market, sales margins and our ability to create a diverse product offering.”