Pension fund invests in Aspo’s ESL Shipping Green Transition

Finnish bulker owner ESL Shipping has welcomed Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company alongside OP Finland Infrastructure LP as a new €15m co-investor to support the growth and de-carbonization of ESL fleet.

Varma has agreed to pump in €15m together with OP Finland Infrastructure, a fund investing in Finnish infrastructure.

To remind, ESL Shipping’s parent company Aspo Plc signed last year an agreement with OP Finland Infrastructure LP, regarding an investment of €30m into Aspo’s subsidiary ESL Shipping.

The investor of pension funds Varma said the combined investment into ESL Shipping managed by OP Finland Infrastructure LP rises to a total of €45m 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 8 November 2023 announced €30m investment in ESL Shipping.

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 €45m 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 €165m, corresponding to a 21.43% ownership stake in ESL Shipping.

This implies an enterprise value of around €300m for ESL Shipping.

Rolf Jansson, chief executive of Aspo Group, said: “This additional equity further accelerates the implementation of ESL Shipping’s low-carbon growth strategy to provide fossil-free sea transportation in the future.”

Johanna Haikala, Investment Manager of Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company, noted: “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.”

ESL Shipping’s green investment in twelve green coasters is progressing as a total of seven vessels are already under construction.

The first vessel in the series, Electramar, was successfully delivered in December, whilst the second vessel, Stellamar, was launched in October.