Varma invests in green transformation of ESL Shipping

Finland’s pension insurance company Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company has agreed to co-invest €15 million alongside OP Finland Infrastructure LP in compatriot shipping company ESL Shipping, a subsidiary of Aspo Plc.

Source: AtoB@C Shipping/ESL Shipping

As a result, the combined investment into ESL Shipping managed by OP Finland Infrastructure LP rises to a total of €45 million at the closing of the transaction.

The co-investment by Varma is made with the same valuation and terms as agreed between Aspo and OP Finland Infrastructure in their November 8, 2023, announced €30 million investment in ESL Shipping.

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Competition authority approvals and change of control approvals from financial institutions have been received and the closing of OP Finland Infrastructure LP’s investment together with Varma’s co-investment is estimated to take place on February 29, 2024.

The combined €45 million investment managed by OP Finland Infrastructure LP will be made against the issuance of new shares in ESL Shipping with an agreed pre-money equity valuation of €165 million, corresponding to a 21.43% ownership stake in ESL Shipping. This implies an enterprise value of approx. €300 million for ESL Shipping.

We are delighted that Varma alongside OP Finland Infrastructure has decided to invest in the ongoing green transformation of ESL Shipping. This additional equity further accelerates the implementation of ESL Shipping’s low-carbon growth strategy to provide fossil-free sea transportation in the future,” Rolf Jansson, CEO of Aspo Group, commented.

“ESL Shipping plays a pivotal role in Finnish maritime transportation and our investment with OP Finland Infrastructure supports the growth and de-carbonization of ESL’s fleet going forwards. Investments in accelerating green transition are in the core for us,” Johanna Haikala, Investment Manager of Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company, said.

The program to accelerate ESL Shipping’s green transformation will continue through further investments in fleet and technologies enabling fossil-free shipments for the company’s customer base.

The already ongoing investment in twelve green coasters is progressing as planned. A total of seven vessels are already under construction and the first vessel in the series, Electramar, was successfully delivered in December. The second vessel, Stellamar, was launched in October and the third, Ecomar, in January 2024.

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Last month, ESL Shipping joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), committing to setting both near-term and long-term science-based emission reduction targets aligned with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

In 2021, ESL Shipping announced its climate targets, aiming to reduce its emission intensity per ton-mile by 50% by 2023 and achieve net zero operations by 2050. However, in alignment with its commitment to science-based targets, the company has expedited its net zero target to 2040.