Aurora Cannabis awards bonuses to execs after posting multibillion-dollar loss

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Millions of dollars worth of bonuses and raises were recently awarded to the leading company executives at Aurora Cannabis. Based in Alberta, Aurora confirmed the news upon the disclosing of figures for the fiscal year, which concluded on June 30.

Since the company conducted large-scale layoffs and experienced losses of more than 3 billion Canadian dollars (USD$2.3 billion), the awarding of shares and option-based bonuses indicate that Aurora is managing to stay afloat.

In comparison with last year’s share and option-based awards, the six executive officers listed in the recently updated circular received 58 percent more compared to the year earlier executive compensation totaled CA$9.8 million. Cash bonuses, on the other hand, were dished out to the amount of almost CA$700,000 (USD$530,000)

Aurora’s founder Terry Booth who stepped down from his CEO position three-quarters into the fiscal year that just ended was granted a compensation package valued at CA$5 million ($5.8 million). Included in that compensation package was nearly CA$2 million (USD$1.5 million) in shares and option-based awards, a salary of CA$458,911 (USD$350,000) a CA$350,000 bonus (USD$266,000) and an additional CA$2.1 million (USD$1.6 million). 

These figures were unveiled by Aurora in a proxy circular that was sent via webcast; in preparation for an annual general meeting set to take place on November 12.

Aurora Cannabis’ fiscal year report suggests no salary increases

A total of 2,380 employees were working for Aurora as of September 22. Company policy specifies that those employees can participate in a share-purchase plan that enables them to have worker contributions matched to three percent of their base salary.

The current fiscal year, which started on July 1 and stretches until the end of June 2022, will not see executives receive any salary increases. However, executives listed in the proxy circular were lucky enough to receive pay raises for the financial year that finished on June 30, 2020. Those executives were as follows:

  • Chief Legal Officer Jillian Swainson’s salary increased 16 percent to CA$286,538 (USD$218,000)
  • Chief Operating Officer Allan Cleiren’s salary inflated nine percent to CA$318,269 (USD$242,000)
  • Former President Steve Dobler‘s annual salary climbed 11 percent to CA$368,750 (USD$280,000)
  • Chief Financial Officer Glen Ibbott’s salary grew 11 percent to CA$368,750 (USD$280,000).

In addition to the aforementioned Aurora executives, Chair Michael Singer also bagged a raise. However, he temporarily served as interim CEO for a chunk of the fiscal year. Corporate performance determines bonus amounts for the CEO, president and CFO, whereas bonuses for the operating officer and chief legal officers are based on individual performance.

Aurora Cannabis didn’t meet corporate objectives for six of 11 KPIs 

In order to determine suitable bonuses for Aurora executives, the company utilized nine key performance indicators associated with its business objectives. Corporate objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) were published by the company and referred to as a guide when determining bonus payouts for executives; payouts vary from zero percent to 150 percent of salary.

“The Management Bonus Plan is a cash bonus designed to reward executives for achieving predetermined annual corporate and individual performance objectives that are tied directly to the company’s strategy,” reads an excerpt from the circular.

The KPIs are categorized as follows:

  • Aurora’s European Union strategy (20 percent)
  • Partnership strategy (20 percent) 
  • United States strategy (25 percent).

Corporate objectives were not met by executives for six of the 11 KPIs, but expectations were exceeded for one metric. Cash bonuses which will be paid on or around October 30 were calculated using a corporate objectives score of 49.17 percent. A higher score could have resulted in executives gaining a bigger bonus.