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German Cannabis Group SynBiotic Announces New Acquisition, Investment and CEO

German-listed cannabis buy-and-build group SynBiotic SE this week announced the receipt of a new €3m investment, the acquisition of a new company, the addition of a new high-profile investor, and the appointment of a new CEO.

These frenetic developments have been reflected in Germany, which is abuzz following the passage of the long-awaited draft bill to decriminalise adult-use cannabis in Europe’s biggest market.

Although ‘legalisation in Germany has changed a lot’ over the past year, leaving many cannabis businesses with less to work with than they had once hoped, this latest acquisition marks SynBiotic’s commitment not only to expanding its footprint in the market, but also to its original investment strategy.

New acquisition and investment

On Monday (August 21), Munich-based SynBiotic announced that CannaCare Health GmbH and its popular CBD brand Canobo have now become the latest additions to its growing portfolio.

The deal will see SynBiotic acquire a ‘majority stake’ in CannaCare Health, which was co-founded by German media entrepreneur Frank Otto.

As part of the deal, Mr Otto has invested €3m in SynBiotic ‘through an extensive share package’, and a vote will be held at the company’s next board meeting to admit Mr Otto to the company’s board of directors.

Mr Otto made his name founding and building TV and radio stations, and was credited, alongside Time Warner and Sony, with creating VIVA Music television, which was later bought out by MTV. He was also involved in founding OK Radio, Delta Radio, and Kiss FM Berlin.

READ MORE: Germany’s ‘Most Important’ Cannabis Reform Since 2017 Clears First Hurdle

He is the latest high-profile investor to join SynBiotic, following Canopy Growth’s Founder and former Chairman and CEO Bruce Linton in November last year.

His cannabis brand CannaCare Health owns CBD wellness brand Canobo, which is understood to have generated sales of €2m in 2021, alongside emerging CBD network marketing subsidiary WellnetIQ.

Daniel Kruse, industry veteran and SynBiotic’s new CEO, told Business of Cannabis: “CannaCare has a really exciting portfolio of high-quality CBD products and brands such as Canobo and excellent access to the German retail market.

“In addition, the network marketing approach is a very interesting distribution channel that we have not yet explored in SynBiotic. We will integrate both into our product portfolio and sales as quickly as possible and then gradually scale them up.”


Alongside the announcement of its new acquisition and investment, SynBiotic announced that Mr Kruse would now take over as CEO, seeing former CEO Lars Müller take on the role of Managing Director.

Mr Kruse, in a similar fashion to Mr Otto, joined the company in 2021 when SynBiotic bought a majority stake in his hemp companies Hanf Farm, Hempro International, Hemp Factory and MH Medical Hemp for €11.2m.

Asked about the reasons behind the boardroom reshuffle, Mr Kruse, who is also the president of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), said: “Due to my decades of experience as founder and managing director of several companies, I am very familiar with the tasks and working environment of a CEO.

“I also bring with me a large national and international network, which will help to create outstanding opportunities for SynBiotic.

“Since the legalisation process and the current market, due to macroeconomic challenges, are complex, we want to position ourselves in the best possible way for the coming years. We have therefore decided to combine our individual strengths and structure them in favour of the work of SynBiotic.”


Capitalising on the German market

In December 2021, when Mr Kruse first joined the company, the German cannabis market was reeling from the announcement that a commercial adult-use cannabis market was incoming.

Business of Cannabis reported at the time that SynBiotic was considering how to adjust its buy-and-build strategy to capitalise on the incoming opportunities, especially considering that the increasing interest in the market had sent the price of German companies spiking.

Two years on, although the passage of the draft bill last week has once again driven a spike in German stock prices, seeing SynBiotic’s stock jump by nearly 50%, the outlook is very different.

“Of course, we had high hopes that the German government would decide in favour of commercial cannabis trade. That’s off the table for now, and we’re concentrating on providing consumers with everything they need to grow their own cannabis,” Mr Kruse explained.

Despite this, he remained adamant that ‘sooner or later we will have commercial supply chains for recreational use’, and as has been the case since 2021, he believes SynBiotic is already ‘well positioned for that’.

“For the time being, however, it is important to offer all products and services that will be legal in Germany as high quality and to take as much market share as possible in this emerging market.

“Legalisation in Germany has changed a lot. We want to be as diversified as possible. This means that we do not want to exclude any distribution channel.”

READ MORE: Buy-And-Build Cannabis Company Pivots to Adult-Use Opportunities In Its Domestic Market 

SynBiotic’s latest acquisition, according to Mr Kruse, demonstrates its commitment to its original investment strategy; however, the company now ‘plans to focus more on the build factor in the coming months and years’.

Furthermore, the company expects the ‘medical cannabis market to grow together with the recreational market as demand increases’, and thus wants to continue its expansion.

Many German businesses like SynBiotic, who have been quietly positioning themselves to capitalise on the commercial market with the acquisition of consumer brands, have voiced their disappointment at the lack of opportunity for business in the latest iteration of the draft bill.

However, Mr Kruse, who is ​​credited with playing a significant role in advancing the legal and regulatory framework around cannabis in Germany, remained positive about the prospects not only for his company, but also for the cannabis liberalisation project in Europe as a whole.

“For many years I have been campaigning for the liberalisation of cannabis, not only but especially for the removal of industrial hemp and its products from the Narcotics Act, and I am still thrilled that this is now becoming a reality.

“As far as the concrete bill is concerned, of course the industry in Germany had hoped for more. But I am confident that if we do a good and reliable job in Germany, it will demonstrate internationally that society is ready for broad legalisation. The important thing is that politicians and the industry keep a close eye on how legalisation develops and do everything they can to ensure that it becomes a success story.”

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