Focused on “futureproofing” its business and operations, it stands to reason that Swedish private equity firm EQT would place great emphasis on sustainability. And so it has, with “the journey to map and offset emissions [having] started already in 2014”, according to the firm.

Since becoming the first private markets firm to have its science-based targets independently validated and approved by SBTi in October 2021, the Stockholm-based firm has continued to make impressive strides with regards to sustainability.

Some of the other milestones achieved in the past 12 months, include the establishment of a sustainability committee, which according to EQT, “marks the first board-level commitment to sustainability in the private markets industry”, as well as the validation of SBTs of three of its portfolio companies – solar power plant operator Solarpack, elder care provider Colisée and digital infrastructure company Melita.

And while these achievements are noteworthy and most likely contributed to EQT being voted Sustainable Investor of the Year by its peers, what really demonstrates its commitment to sustainability is a series of decarbonisation initiatives two of its portfolio companies have recently undertaken.

Molslinjen and Torghatten are two ferry operators in Denmark and Norway, respectively, that EQT acquired in early 2021 in two separate transactions. Under EQT’s ownership, the two companies have been on a seemingly parallel path towards decarbonisation. In April, Torghatten said it would start developing a new 117-metre long, zero-emissions battery-powered ferry, while a few months later in September, Molslinjen was developing two similar-sized ferries that would use batteries and back-up generators fuelled by hydrogenated vegetable oil.

‘Floating bridges’

In addition, Torghatten, which already has three battery-powered ferries in operation, is also developing two new vessels that will use at least 85 percent of green hydrogen-based fuel, slated to become operational in 2025. In the shorter term, however, Torghatten is planning to launch a city ferry serving central Stockholm this summer, in partnership with one of its investee companies, Zeabuz, a developer of electric autonomous vessels.

For its part, Molslinjen will be linking the cities of Helsingør in Denmark with Helsingborg in Sweden following the acquisition of ForSea, the sole operator of five roll-on/roll-off ferries that connect the two cities via a single ferry route strategically located at the closest point between the two countries (around four kilometres).

As the two companies have evolved – both in terms of size and the decarbonisation of their operations – key objectives EQT set out when acquiring each company, the fund manager decided to merge the two in December 2022, to create what it calls a “pan-Nordic operator of ‘floating bridges’”. The result is Nordic Ferry Infrastructure, a platform comprising a portfolio of more than 100 vessels operating across 65 routes and serving 16 million passengers annually.

“EQT Infrastructure will continue to invest significantly in the decarbonisation and electrification of NFI’s combined ferry fleet to reach long-term targets towards net-zero emissions,” the firm said at the time of the merger.

Considering each company’s successful journey so far and EQT delivering on its promises within just two years since its initial investment, it seems NFI is in for some smooth sailing.

Second place: Actis

Third place: InfraRed Capital Partners