Novo Nordisk owner invests $290 million in energy transition fund

A coffee machine featuring Novo Nordisk logo is seen at the company headquarters in Copenhagen

By Maggie Fick

LONDON (Reuters) - The controlling shareholder in drugmaker Novo Nordisk on Thursday announced a major investment in a new energy transition fund as it expands its portfolio beyond health.

Novo Holdings controls 76% of the votes in Denmark's Novo Nordisk, which became Europe's most valuable company last week on the back of soaring profits from its weight-loss drug Wegovy and type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic.

Novo Holdings said it will invest about 2 billion Danish kroner ($290 million) in a new fund managed by Glentra Capital, an investment firm set up last year by two Danish businessmen. The firm says it aims to generate returns through renewable energy investments.

Novo Holdings also said it taken a 20% stake in Glentra Capital.

Morten Beck Jorgensen, managing partner for capital investments, told Reuters that the investment announced on Thursday is in line with a strategy set five years ago, for Novo Holdings to scale up its green transition investments over time in keeping with its purpose of generating long-term returns through investments that broadly improve sustainability.

"Green transition is not the only priority but it will be a big part of the entire investment portfolio going forward," Jorgensen said in a phone interview.

He said that although Novo Holdings had made several recent energy transition investments, citing one of an undisclosed amount in sustainability focused real-estate developer NREP, the one announced Thursday was the first large one.

Novo Holdings' capital to invest is burgeoning on Novo Nordisk's financial performance. The drugmaker's market capitalisation as of Thursday is $219 billion and its shares are up 45% this year.

Novo Holdings is wholly owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, which lists its aims as providing "a stable basis for the commercial and research activities conducted by the companies within the Novo Group", of which Novo Nordisk is the largest, and supporting "scientific, humanitarian, and social purposes."

(Reporting by Maggie Fick; Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)