Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Adebayo Ogunlesi, The Nigerian That Bought Britains Gatwick Airport

Adebayo Ogunlesi, 57, fondly called Bayo by colleagues and friends, is the Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an independent investment fund based in New York City, United States. Bayo, who has presided over a great number of multi-billion dollar deals, recently added the acquisition of Gatwick Airport, London, United Kingdom to its many achievements in the business circle. SEYI GESINDE reports.

Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian businessman,  born 1953, sits atop a $5.64 billion joint venture, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), whose founding partners are Credit Suisse and General Electric, based in New York, United States, where he holds the position of Chairman and Managing Partner. GIP is a long-term investor that aims to achieve fully transparent superior returns in businesses. Being an independent venture, the company invests in infrastructure assets worldwide and works in partnership with the public sector and other stakeholders to improve infrastructure for the community.

Its major interests are in power, transport, oil and gas, water and waste. GIP capitalises on its global capability to facilitate its projects and applies industrial best practice to enhance operating efficiency with major interest. One of its major acquisitions is London’s Gatwick airport. The journey to the acquisition of London’s Gatwick airport by GIP began in September, 2008, when British Airways Aircraft (BAA) announced its plan to sell the airfield. Subsequently, GIP’s founding partners, Credit Suisse and General Electric paid £1.46bn for Gatwick, with a further £55m linked to future passenger numbers and the buyer’s capital structure. The aim of GIP in acquiring the airport according to its owners, was to upgrade and modernise the airport after airlines who operate in the United Kingdom (UK) warned they would not tolerate a lack of investment in the Sussex site and welcomed the “break up of the BAA airport monopoly.” This deal, championed by a Nigerian represents a discount to Gatwick’s Regulated Asset Base (RAB), is expected to rise above £1.6 million, and helped BAA to pay down £1bn of debt due in March 2010 and £1bn due in 2011. GIP is expected to focus on improving the speed of security and check-in at the airport, but said it will unveil its investment plans when the deal is completed.

Ogunlesi, before rising to become the Chairman and Managing Partner of GIP, was the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer of Credit Suisse’s Investment Banking Division with senior responsibility for Credit Suisse’s corporate and sovereign investment banking clients. For two years, 2002 to 2004, he was Head of Credit Suisse’s Global Investment Banking Department, responsible for worldwide capital markets (debt and equity), mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and advisory, industry, country and regional banking businesses. Prior to that period, he had been the Head of Global Power, Utilities and Project Finance in 1994, and from 1997-2002, served as Head of the Global Energy Group (power, utilities, oil and gas, chemicals, mining and project finance).

Ogunlesi as a child did not take after his father, a Professor of Medicine. Rather, he opted for Philosophy, politics and Economics. After graduation, for some time, he worked as an investment banker, and had also worked as an attorney with the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore after securing a degree in Law at Havard University. From 1980 to 1981, he served as a Law Clerk to the Honourable Thurgood Marshall, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Since he joined Credit Suisse in 1983, Ogunlesi has advised clients on strategic transactions and financings in a broad range of industries and has worked on transactions in North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Before travelling abroad in the early 70s, Ogunlesi had his basic and secondary education in Nigeria. He attended the prestigious King’s College Lagos, Nigeria after which he left for the United Kingdom (UK) for his university education. He got admitted to Oxford University, UK, where he graduated with first class honours in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. After graduating with a first class degree, Ogunlesi went back to study Law and Business at  Harvard University in the United States, as one of three foreign students in his class, though the school did not usually admit students who had been born and educated outside the United States at the time.

At Harvard, Ogunlesi and W. Randy Eaddy became the first two editors of African descent to serve together on the prestigious Harvard Law Review, and also holds a degree in Law and Business at Harvard University in the United States. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School of Organisation and Management, where he teaches a course on transnational investment projects in emerging countries. For his practical hard-headed intelligence and contributions to community development, Ogunlesi has been presented with the New York’s Excellence Award, and the US popular Time Magazine’s 2002 Global Influential list, Ogunlesi was named among the 15 most-promising young executives in US, while Fortune ranked him as the Seventh Most Powerful Black Executive in the United States

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