Our Story

metronuclear LLC is a deep value social impact principal investment partnership that awaits then exploits market dislocations, uses algorithms to make investment decisions, and engages management teams to reduce price-value gaps and to improve social impact and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Originally established to supply physical uranium concentrates to US nuclear plants receiving state-level subsidies, metronuclear invests in systemically important public companies that are overlooked and undervalued.

Our Journey

Our founder pioneered uranium trading at two global investment banks and later launched metronuclear when New York and Illinois approved annual ratepayer subsidies for nuclear power plants. We have engaged practically every corporate owner of a nuclear power plant fleet in America. In each case, metronuclear was singularly responsible for the owner’s nuclear fuel team meeting its diversity team for the first time ever. While waiting for these corporate owners to make their nuclear fuel supply chains more diverse, inclusive, and thus more resilient, we pivoted to deep value investments, and specifically European bank shares (and/or proxies thereof) that traded at historically large discounts to their tangible net asset value.

Our Investments

metronuclear’s main investment is in Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft, Germany’s second-largest private bank. Commerzbank is the market leader in Mittelstand lending, a pioneer in the field of sustainable finance, and the parent of leading digital bank-broker comdirect. Its mBank subsidiary is Poland’s fifth-largest bank. And its CommerzVentures venture capital platform has invested successfully at an early stage in fintech unicorns such as Marqeta, eToro, Mambu, and Bought By Many.

We have initiated a constructive dialogue with Commerzbank and are fully supportive of its management team and corporate strategy. metronuclear introduced the #BetOnBettina hashtag to social media in support of Commerzbank’s dynamic Chief Financial Officer. The bank has achieved accelerated transformation progress under the stewardship of its results-oriented Chief Executive Officer and in turn has announced a Capital Return Policy with the clear intention to return three billion euros (split between share buybacks and dividends) to shareholders by 2024. At the time of the announcement, the targeted capital return was equal to around one quarter of the bank’s market capitalization. metronuclear correctly anticipated Commerzbank’s reascension to Germany’s DAX 40 blue-chip index.

In our view, positive operating leverage from significantly higher net interest income and lower inflation-adjusted post-transformation costs could boost Commerzbank’s earnings and capital returns. In the first quarter of 2024, Commerzbank earned 747 million euros in profits and achieved a return on tangible equity of 10.5 percent, which is more than its assumed cost of capital. For full year 2024, the bank expects to return at least 1.6 billion euros of capital to shareholders. Critically, 2024 is the first year during which the bank expects to benefit from the full effects of both transformation cost savings and reduced bank levies. Against the backdrop of a robust Tier 1 common equity (CET1) ratio of 14.9 percent that exceeds minimum requirements by a healthy 455 basis points, the bank has indicated that profits will not accrue to CET1 during 2024, which in turn signals that it may opt to pay out its entire profit for the year as capital returns to shareholders. For full year 2027, Commerzbank has announced it is targeting a return on tangible equity of over 11 percent, capital returns with a payout ratio of well over 50 percent, and earnings of 3.4 billion euros. At the time of the announcement, the targeted full year 2027 earnings were equal to around one quarter of the bank’s market capitalization. metronuclear correctly anticipated the positive re-rating of Commerzbank’s shares by the sell-side equity analyst community.

metronuclear believes Commerzbank management’s conservatism is strategic and that its purpose may only be revealed over time through capital returns. We believe it is in the best strategic interests of Commerzbank, management, and shareholders to pursue a so-called direct buyback of the German government’s entire 15.8 percent stake in the bank at low share prices (around 15 euros) relative to underlying tangible net asset value (around 25 euros). A direct buyback from the German government gained new impetus after the German Finance Minister stated publicly that the government would privatize government stakes in companies that it no longer needed in a bid to plug a budget gap attributable to a constitutional court ruling limiting the government’s ability to repurpose emergency funding for new uses circumventing the debt brake codified in German law. At 15 euros per share, the German government’s stake has a market value of around three billion euros but has a balance sheet value of between four and five billion euros. Fortunately, the market value is roughly equivalent to, respectively, (1) the bank’s excess capital, (2) the capital returns the bank has stated it will deliver to shareholders by June 2025 in line with its capital return policy, and (3) consensus forecasts for the bank’s full year 2025 profits. The bank therefore has triple capacity to engage in a direct buyback that could unlock between one and two billion euros in balance sheet value. By pursuing a direct buyback, Commerzbank would follow the path of another European bank that has successfully repurchased its shares from its government.

We believe the German government under the guise of advocacy for Commerzbank’s independence seeks to ensure the bank remains under German control and ownership. Four of the ten duly elected shareholder representatives on Commerzbank’s Supervisory Board have direct or indirect ties to the German government. The level of German government representation on the shareholder side of the Supervisory Board (40 percent) is therefore disproportionate to the level of German government ownership (around 16 percent). Having secured negative control through governance, the German government in our view is much more likely to be willing to part with its Commerzbank stake, its public statements notwithstanding. Selling its stake back to the bank itself instead of a non-German buyer is one way the German government can ensure the bank remains independent, returns to full private ownership, and appeases internal stakeholders who are openly hostile to potential non-German buyers.

And just as we do not believe the German government is a long-term shareholder of Commerzbank, we do not believe Commerzbank is a long-term shareholder of mBank, the sale of which in our view has the potential to unlock up to four billion euros in additional capital returns. Commerzbank received the clearest signal yet in our view to divest mBank when pro-European center-left parties won the majority of votes in recent parliamentary elections in Poland, unseating a populist government that had frequently clashed with European Union institutions. Erste Group Bank–the previous employer of three members of Commerzbank’s seven-person Management Boardwas once thought of as a potential acquirer of mBank and has already acquired Commerzbank’s Hungarian subsidiary.

Our Team

Roy Adams

  • Founder and Chief Investment Officer of metronuclear
    • Originates, executes, and manages partnership’s deep value investments
    • Performs research function for geopolitics, macroeconomics, equities, and commodities
    • Engages management teams of target companies to measurably improve diversity and social impact
    • Scaled partnership’s investment in Commerzbank shares during extreme volatility events
    • Developed partnership’s deep value algorithms and uranium term and option pricing models
  • Pioneered uranium trading at Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers in UK and US with customers spanning 5 continents
    • Financial Times: Adams left Deutsche Bank to work with two non-profits and later to invest privately in uranium-linked and European bank shares
    • Reuters: Deutsche Bank’s global uranium trading business was long-term supplier of uranium to utilities, profitable each year of its existence, and later sold to Australian bank Macquarie
    • Originated and executed first-ever long-term physical uranium supply contract between a bank and a nuclear utility
    • Traded first-ever financially-settled uranium swap with institutional investors
    • Arranged first-ever financially-settled uranium swap with a nuclear utility, covering a quarter of its annual fuel requirements
  • Graduate of NYC public schools, Mathematics and Science for Minority Students Program at Phillips Academy Andover, Yale College, and Tuck School of Business (Edward Tuck Scholar)