New York Private-Equity Firm Raised 93 Million to Invest in the Legal Marijuana Industry


Tuatara Capital has raised a $93 million fund to invest exclusively in the legal marijuana industry, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Two of Tuatara’s principals, Al Foreman and Mark Zittman, believe that it’s the largest fund in the marijuana industry.

“Our understanding is that we have the largest pool of capital by fund and firm size in space,” Foreman told Business Insider during a joint call with Zittman.

Founded in 2014 by Zittman and Foreman, the private-equity firm, based in New York, exclusively focuses on the legal cannabis industry.

Tuatara raised money from a “good mix” of high-net-worth people and family offices, Foreman and Zittman said. Institutional investors, like pension funds or banks, have mostly shied away from investing directly in the industry since marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it’s still illegal at the federal level.

Many of Tuatara’s investors, however, are “quasi-institutional,” Foreman said — professional investors operating as money managers for high-net-worth clients and family offices. While the capital itself is still coming from individuals, it’s clear that professional money managers are paying close attention to marijuana.

The firm originally targeted $80 million for its first fund, and the partners tapped their longstanding connections on Wall Street to raise the cash. Zittman spent over 15 years as a senior managing director at Guggenheim Partners, and Foreman was an investment banker at JPMorgan and a managing director at Highbridge Principal Strategies, according to Tuatara’s website.

So far, Tuatara has led Series A rounds for Willie’s Reserve, singer Willie Nelson’s cannabis brand, and Teewinot Life Sciences Corp., a cannabis pharmaceutical company, according to The Journal.

Reactions from other funds in the marijuana market have been positive.

“I think Tuatara should be congratulated for the hard work that went into securing $93 million for deployments into the cannabis industry,” Steve Gormley, the CEO of Seventh Point, another marijuana-focused investment firm, told Business Insider in an email. “The industry justifies a multibillion-dollar investment from firms like Seventh Point and Tuatara.”

The money might even have larger implications.

“Ninety-three million is an impressive amount of money to raise,” Derek Peterson, the CEO of Terra Tech Corp., a publicly traded marijuana company, told Business Insider in an email. “Having a professional fund manager like Tuatara being able to accomplish this shows there’s an increasing appetite to invest in this industry, especially from larger investors who were at first concerned with the legal and political risk factors.”

Tuatara is one of a number of funds set up to invest in the legal marijuana industry. Seventh Point is looking at completing a $75 million fund this year, and Privateer Holdings, the first solely cannabis-focused fund, landed $75 million in funding in a round anchored by the legendary Silicon Valley venture capital firm Founders Fund.

Interest in the space will likely grow as well. Measures to legalize medical and recreational marijuana are on ballots in a number of states in November, including California, Maine, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts, Florida, Missouri, and Michigan.

Originally posted 2017-02-18 23:10:35.