ESG Core Rises in Europe’s First Sustainable SPAC Listing

ESG Core Investments BV rose in its Amsterdam trading debut Friday after raising 250 million euros ($303 million) in the first initial public offering of a sustainability-focused blank-check company in Europe.

ESG Core climbed 3% to 10.3 euros at 11:40 a.m. in Amsterdam from the offering price of 10 euros per unit. The listing is the first in Europe this year by a special-purpose acquisition company, and only the third such offering since the blank-check craze took Wall Street by storm in 2020.

The SPAC is eyeing acquisitions in the energy transition and water technology sectors, especially those with “differentiated and scalable technology,” said Frank van Roij, managing director at ESG Core Investments. The company sees the “possibility” of raising more capital once a target has been identified, he said.

Since the beginning of 2020, 388 SPACs have gone public in the U.S., raising about $126 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The pipeline of deals in Europe is slowly filling up, with Amsterdam proving a popular destination.

Martin Blessing, a former chief executive officer of Commerzbank AG, is planning a SPAC listing in the Netherlands, targeting deals in the European financial industry, Bloomberg News reported last week. Michael Tobin, a U.K. data center entrepreneur-turned-motivational speaker, is seeking to list a technology-focused blank-check firm, in Amsterdam, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.

ESG Core went for Amsterdam as it is considering the north western European market for acquisitions and is keen to keep the company “listed in its home market,” van Roij said, citing the high demand for sustainable investments in Europe.

ESG Core is sponsored by Infestos, a sustainable investing firm that manages the capital of Bernard Ten Doeschot, who made his fortune by selling his stake in water filtration systems maker Norit to Doughty Hanson & Co. more than a decade ago.

Infestos also listed Alfen Beheer BV, a developer of smart electrical grids, in Amsterdam three years ago. Shares in Alfen, which also makes charging stations for electric vehicles and energy-storage systems, have soared 725% since then.

Money managers are facing greater pressure from investors, regulators and activists to direct capital toward business and activities that support a greener and fairer society. Assets that adhere to environmental, social and governance criteria are on course to exceed $53 trillion by 2025, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence report.

“The strong demand for the ESG Core Investments IPO among other things reflects the ever-increasing investor focus on ESG,” said Paul Huysmans, global co-head of equity capital markets at ABN Amro Bank NV, which helped arrange the deal. Meanwhile, “the SPAC structure provides target companies with financial, as well as intellectual capital from the sponsor team,” he said.

Each ESG Core Investments unit consists of one share, 0.125 of a warrant received by investors at the IPO and 0.125 of a warrant, which holders will get once the SPAC completes an acquisition. The warrants will trade separately.

ABN Amro and Joh Berenberg Gossler & Co KG were joint global coordinators on the deal. Kempen NV was a co-bookrunner.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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