Finnish bulker owner ESL Shipping could be listed, demerged or sold as part of a reorganisation by parent group Aspo.

Helsinki-listed Aspo has revealed a reorganisation of its three businesses, including the dry bulk operation that controls more than 50 ships from handysizes down to mini-bulkers.

The group said it has a new “portfolio vision” in which two separate companies will be formed in the “coming years”.

Aspo Infra will comprise shipping, while Aspo Compounder will include industrial chemicals supplier Telko and baking industry supplier Leipurin.

The change is due to diverging business models and strategies, with different decarbonisation agendas.

The companies also have different growth investment needs, Aspo said.

The idea is to maximise shareholder value.

Aspo will consider a number of approaches for its two divisions, ranging from IPOs and demergers to full or partial sales.

“Timing will depend among [other things] on growth investments, the financial performance of the businesses and market conditions,” it said.

Aspo’s ambition is to reach €1bn ($1.08bn) in revenue by 2028.

The target for ESL is revenue of more than €300m, with an Ebitda margin of 14%.

Capex cash needed

This will need capex investment of between €350m and €400m, split equally between ESL and the Compounder division.

“ESL Shipping is focused on sustainability-driven growth, combined with commercial and operational excellence,” said Aspo chief executive Rolf Jansson.

ESL will have 13 handysizes after the sale of its two supramaxes announced earlier this year, plus 38 smaller bulkers through the AtoB@C Shipping subsidiary in Sweden.

The company also has 12 small hybrid electric bulkers on order with partners in India.

ESL suffered a loss-making first quarter as port strikes and impairments from ship sales hurt the bottom line.

Jansson said domestic strikes and tough ice conditions knocked €3.5m off the earnings.

ESL’s operating loss was €5m, against a profit of €6m in the same three months of 2023.

In February, the shipowner welcomed a second major new investor on board as part of its low-carbon drive.

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

ESL will have €45m to spend on its fleet transformation after OP Finland put in €30m last November.

New shares were issued in ESL, giving the investors a combined 21.43% stake and implying an enterprise value of €300m, the shipowner said.