Finnish bulker owner ESL Shipping has welcomed a second major new investor on board as part of its low-carbon drive.

Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Co has agreed to pump in €15m ($19m) together with existing backer OP Finland Infrastructure.

ESL, a subsidiary of Helsinki-listed Aspo, will have €45m to spend on its fleet transformation after OP Finland put in €30m last November.

New shares will be issued in ESL, giving the investors a combined 21.43% stake.

This implies an enterprise value of €300m for ESL, the shipowner said.

“We are delighted that Varma alongside OP Finland Infrastructure has decided to invest in the ongoing green transformation of ESL Shipping,” said Aspo chief executive Rolf Jansson.

“This additional equity further accelerates the implementation of ESL Shipping’s low-carbon growth strategy to provide fossil-free sea transportation in the future,” he added.

The deals represent the first fruits of a plan initiated in April 2023 that envisioned three alternative measures: a new investment pool of fossil-free vessels, a possible equity injection and the sale of its two supramaxes.

The owner is building a series of 12 small electric-hybrid bulkers in India with other investment partners.

“ESL Shipping plays a pivotal role in Finnish maritime transportation and our investment with OP Finland Infrastructure supports the growth and decarbonisation of ESL’s fleet going forward,” said Johanna Haikala, Varma investment manager.

“Investments in accelerating green transition are in the core for us,” she added.

ESL said the programme to accelerate its green transformation will continue through further investments in its fleet and technologies enabling fossil-free shipments.

The company operates around 40 ships, 23 of which are wholly owned.