Varma joins OP Finland as ESL Shipping investor
Dry bulk and project cargo carrier, ESL Shipping, an Aspo subsidiary, has secured an €15 million investment from Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company and OP Finland Infrastructure. As a result, the combined investment into ESL Shipping managed by OP Finland Infrastructure 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 following the €30 million investment in November 2023. Competition authority approvals and change of control approvals from financial institutions have been received and the closing of OP Finland Infrastructure’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 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 per cent ownership stake. 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”, says Rolf Jansson, CEO of Aspo Group.
“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”, says Johanna Haikala, Investment Manager of Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company.
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, with the third vessel hitting the water in January this year.