Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Nigerian-born Investment Banker Who Bought Gatwick Airport

gbiogunlesiThe Nigerian-born investment banker, Mr. Adebayo Ogunlesi, beat the Britons at their own game.
VENTURES AFRICA – Up until February 2010, very few people had heard about Adebayo Ogunlesi. The Nigerian-born investment banker and money manager made international headlines when he led the acquisition of London’s Gatwick Airport from the British Airports Authority in a recorded £1.51 billion deal. The acquisition instantly propelled Ogunlesi, 58, into the global spotlight and earned him a place in history as the man who acquired London’s second largest international airport.

Adebayo Ogunlesi is the chairman and managing partner of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a New York-based independent private equity fund focused primarily on infrastructural investments, with over $5.6 billion under management. The purchase of Gatwick Airport may have grabbed all the headlines, but GIP has some other noteworthy assets in its portfolio including a 75% stake in London City Airport, and Biffa Limited, a UK based waste management company.

Gatwick suffered deep losses over the years, and all the turnaround efforts made by its former managers, the British Airport Authority (BAA), failed to halt the downward spiral. In the first nine months of 2009, the airport reportedly recorded a pre-tax loss of over £780 million, prompting the British government to actively shop for buyers. BAA also reportedly lost £225 million on Gatwick after it was compelled to sell the airport by the Competition Commission.

While Ogunlesi’s acquisition might have brought him international acclaim and made him something of an overnight private equity rock star, pundits kept their fingers crossed to see what he will make out of the ailing airport.

But Ogunlesi believed strongly in the future of the airport so much that he invested some of his own personal funds into the acquisition. He promised to make Gatwick a truly first class international airline and substantially improve the customer experience. Judging from his antecedents, he is likely to deliver on those promises.

In 2006, Ogunlesi had led the acquisition of London City Airport. Immediately after its acquisition, Ogunlesi spearheaded a series of operational improvements aimed at boosting capacity and improving the operating offering and service quality. According to information available on GIP’s corporate website, London City Airport’s passenger numbers grew by 22% in its first full year of ownership.

Formidable footprints
Ogunlesi has had the good fortune of being born into a solid pedigree. His father was the first Nigerian-born professor of medicine and tutored at the country’s premier university, University of Ibadan. After attending the prestigious King’s College, Lagos, he went ahead to study philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford where he graduated at the top of his class, and later earned law and business degrees from Harvard. At Harvard, he was an outstanding student, becoming one of the first two editors of African descent to serve together on the influential Harvard Law Review.

After studying at Harvard, he took up a job as a clerk for the late American Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, serving at the court for 3 years- from 1980 till 1983. This effectively made Ogunlesi the first non-American ever to clerk at the U.S’ highest court.

In 1983, Ogunlesi enjoyed a brief stint at the New York Law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore as an associate, before taking up an appointment with First Boston, an investment bank.
At First Boston, he swiftly rose from the position of associate to managing director of the bank’s project-finance group. He spent a great deal of his time travelling through emerging market countries where he brokered high-powered deals among lenders, governments, and firms involved in mining, oil refineries and natural gas plants.

In 1997, the Credit Suisse Group acquired First Boston and subsequently renamed it Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB). Ogunlesi was still one of the institution’s most strategic managers, and by 2002, the new owners had appointed him as the managing director of the firm’s global investment banking division- one of the most influential subsidiaries of the group. Ogunlesi was in charge of a division that managed $2.8 billion in assets and employed over 1,200 investment bankers. His new appointment also earned him a seat on the bank’s board of directors and its influential 15-member operating committee.

However, the elevation was not without some challenges. Ogunlesi had to return the division back to profitability, considering that the previous year it had lost almost $1 billion. He adopted a lean, mean management style, firing 300 bankers and 50 senior executives within the first few weeks of his assumption. He persuaded the remaining staff to accept pay cuts and advocated for reduced operating expenses. Top bankers were required to relinquish the luxury of limousines in favour of taxis. But his cost-cutting measures worked magic. Within a year, the bank had returned to profitability and its revenue had risen by 25 percent.

An eye on Africa
Despite his long sojourn in Europe and America, Ogunlesi still manages to stay abreast of developments in Africa. He has helped champion the African economic renaissance and in 2009 was appointed non-executive chairman of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a financial institution set up to revamp Africa’s critical infrastructure and invest in key sectors of the continent’s economy. AFC, which was patterned after the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, was a lead investor in the $240 million Main One submarine fibre optic cable that will expand telecommunications capacity in West Africa. AFC also led Africa’s participation in the $750 million syndicated lending facility to develop the landmark Ghanaian Jubilee Oil Field, one of West Africa’s largest deepwater offshore developments in over a decade.
In Nigeria, Ogunlesi is spearheading the corporation’s attempt to address the country’s epileptic power supply. In January 2011 it hosted a power sector roundtable to examine the key issues, identify the constraints and proffer practical solutions to the challenges facing Independent Power Plants (IPPs) in the country. Ogunlesi’s passion for his home country has seen him advising successive governments on fiscal policies, strategic management and economic development. He served as an informal adviser to former president Olusegun Obasanjo, and still consults for the country’s current government on occasion.

Recently, it was announced that Ogunlesi’s Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) was set to acquire Edinburgh airport for a surprise £807 million ($1.3 billion). Click here to read the full story on Ventures Africa.


  1. This is nice. The people who have business mind they take the lower step but have eyes on the big goal. Gatwick Airport Parking

  2. Oh.. It was unknown to me. There are many improvements after this taking over too at Gatwick. Such as availability of even more easy Gatwick airport parking .

  3. He has promised to make Gatwick a truly amazing international airport and yes it has substantially improved the customer experience. especially the availability of safe airport parking Gatwick is like a cherry on the strawberry cake.

  4. As Gatwick has bear loss over the previous years, Nigerian born investment bank is supposed to improve the contemporary conditions at the airport. They must be done to ensure lasting satisfaction to the customers at the airport. so that people feel more pleased with Valet car parking Manchester

  5. This is Nice Thanks for sharing.Travel Genie Provide best Summer Offers for Gatwick airport parking..

  6. Gatwick offers a variety of parking deals which are cheap, secure and reliable. All you have to do is select the one best suited to your requirement. gatwick chauffeur parking

  7. if you want a fancy experience of valet parking gatwick is your best choice for its unique combination of cheap and secure parking deals.

  8. That is some achievement. i hope it has a positive affect on the betterment of Gatwick Airport. gatwick airport parking

  9. This is Nice Thanks for sharing Dear.

  10. This person is quite a success story, hope to see gatwick thrive under his authority. cheap gatwick parking

  11. Gatwick is the 2nd largest airport in the whole wide world. gatwick meet and greet is one of the best parking facilitation service to assist all those who come through its door with a wonderful plan of vacation in there mind.

  12. The change of authority stands to create a certain level of expectation for betterment in the current facilities and the services for the passengers. I hope it fulfills the people expectation. cheapest gatwick parking

  13. Changes happen, all that matters is if they turn out to be good or not. With the change in authority of such a big place like Gatwick, people will be expecting a lot from it. gatwick chauffeur parking

  14. he is a great man who acquired the airport although gatwick has suffered from many losses but he promised to make the airport first class and now it has become an amazing airline with great facilities.Luton Parking

  15. Avail the wonderful services of gatwick meet and greet parking and enjoy traveling to the whole wide world...

  16. It seems that the changes in the authorities might be beneficial for the repute status and functionality of the gatwick airport. gatwick valet parking

  17. Whatever he makes out of the ailing airport, there will be changes and the notable ones, lets keep the fingers crossed and hope it all goes well. gatwick airport parking