Remarkable Improvement Achieved by Imidazole Derivatives in Ruthenium-Catalyzed Hydroesterification of Alkenes Using Formates

Imidazole derivatives are revealed to be effective ligands in the Ru-catalyzed hydroesterification of alkenes using formates, affording one-carbon-elongated esters in high yields. Further, intramolecular hydroesterification was successfully performed to give lactones for the first time. Imidazole derivatives can contribute to promote the reaction as well as to suppress the undesired decarbonylation of formate. Toxic CO gas, a directing group, and large excess alkenes are not required.