Linton said Wednesday he was "terminated" and the board's decision to make his co-chief executive Mark Zekulin the sole CEO - days after the company's biggest shareholder said it was "not pleased" with Canopy's latest earnings - could have been handled differently.
The world's largest weed producer announced earlier in the day that Linton was stepping down, leaving Mark Zekulin in charge of the company, sending its shares down 4%.
The company's surprise announcement came after Canopy last month reported a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter net loss attributable to shareholders of $335.6 million or 98 cents per share, despite a jump in net revenue to $94.1 million that beat market estimates.
Zekulin said the company "will never be the same without Bruce".
"We are working with Canopy nearly on a daily basis to ensure that we are all focused on the right things", Constellation CEO Bill Newlands had said on a post-earnings call with analysts.
Linton, a co-founder of Canopy, had been a leader at the company since its inception in 2013, when it was first known as Tweed Marijuana.
Canopy in June said its shareholders had approved a deal to acquire the right to purchase US multi-state cannabis operator Acreage Holdings for $3.4 billion, with the transaction contingent on the USA legalizing cannabis production and sales at the national level.
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Zekulin, who has also been tasked by the board to begin the search for a "new leader", said Wednesday's move was "unexpected".
"We believe there may have been a disconnect between the near-term execution sought by Constellation at this point and Linton's focus on investing for the longer term, often at the expense of short-term performance", RBC analyst Douglas Miehm said.
Linton played a major role in taking the company public in 2014 and helped expand its operations to 12 production facilities across Canada and 14 countries around the world. "For this, Cannabis companies need to show a route to profitability". Canopy Growth was also not immediately available to provide more details on Linton's departure.
Analysts at brokerage Stifel said they would not be surprised to see Linton take on another role within the cannabis industry, likely as an entrepreneur as his strength was in recognizing early stage value.
The board also appointed John Bell, who has served as lead director for five years, to replace Linton as chairman.
Rade Kovacevic, who now leads the company's Canadian operations and recreational strategy, will take over the role of president from Zekulin.
Given the alcohol company's disappointment and the recent appointment of a Constellation Brands veteran as Canopy's chief financial officer, the move is not surprising, Cowen analyst Vivien Azer said Wednesday.