Energy Transition Shipping Shipping Finance

“Email this guy, they have 5 billion for that”

Money not a problem for zero emission shipping start-up Veer

The entrepreneurs behind traditional sailing shipping company Sailcargo Inc. have just announced the set-up of a deep-sea, container shipping spin-off called Veer. The ships, starting at 100 TEUs and designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, will feature sophisticated DynaRig sails, battery-hydrogen power, and low carbon steel.

Investors are delighted. As the race to decarbonize shipping accelerates, it seems there is plenty of money, but not enough good projects.

Danielle Doggett, Veer’s CEO, commented: “Our initial round of seed funding, which was 400,000 dollars, we secured back in May in 24 hours”.

The financing model for Sailcargo Inc. and Veer is quite unique, and in a way reminiscent of the centuries-old shipowner equity funding pool, but with a 21st-century twist. The companies are not leveraged, and instead source capital from similar-minded investors who care about zero-emission shipping. Shipbuilding progress is tracked by well-crafted digital reports, Instagram posts, and Youtube videos.

Veer flagship Mamba. Image credits: Veer

Veer thus builds on the experience of Ceiba and Pitaya, the first two vessels of Sailcargo Inc. The former is under construction, while the latter is on the drawing board.

“Ceiba has gone so well that we actually didn’t know what to do with all of the interest from investors, so we paused the online investment opportunity right now, to give us some breathing room. I anticipate that funding for Veer is not going to be a problem since with Ceiba and Pitaya, we’ve actually refused to accept funding quite a bit already to this point, because we want to wait to find the perfect investors and partners”, adds Doggett.

The “perfect investor” might not exist, but there are plenty of candidates, all signaling their virtues through Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) commitments. ESG funds have already reached $1.7trn of assets under management, according to a recent Bank of America (BofA) research note. According to the bank, such funds are growing three times as fast as non-ESG funds.

Ms. Doggett is witnessing the interest first-hand. “I’ve just done three days of an intensive zero-emission shipping event with Zestas (Zero Emissions Ship Technology Association) alongside COP26. We had some high-level, finance professionals in the room, they were just speaking openly and saying, ‘email this guy, they have 5 billion for that’ “.

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