The influential Time Magazine has rated Adebayo Ogunlesi, 58 as the 7th most powerful American and by far the most influential black business tycoon in the United States. Ogunlesi has over 5.6 billion dollars investment under his watch.
Adebayo, the son of Nigeria’s first Professor of Medicine, hails from Sagamu, Ogun State in Nigeria’s South West.
He is the Chairman and Managing Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a New York-based independent private equity fund. Adebayo came into full circle recently when he bought Gatwick Airport in the UK following years of economic meltdown.
“The rise of this Harvard-educated lawyer prompted Time magazine to name him to its “People to Watch in International Business” list a few weeks later, and Ogunlesi was also ranked by Fortune magazine as the seventh most powerful black executive in the United States.”
Little was known of him until February 2010 when he led the 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.
Ogunlesi’s GIP assets include a75% stake in London City Airport, and Biffa Limited, a UK based waste management concern.
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.
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.
Ogunlesi attended the prestigious King’s College, Lagos, after which he received his B.A. with first class honours in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford where he graduated at the top of his class, and later earned law and business degrees from Harvard, his J.D. magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School in the late 70’s.
At the law school, he was one of just three non-Americans in his class 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.
He once revisited the story jokingly during an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times that “There was a guy from Saudi Arabia, a guy from Iran and me, when I resumed at Harvard,I thought that all of us would go back to our countries, become rich, and endow chairs. I hope the Iranian and Saudi did, because I never endowed a chair.”
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 had 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.
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.
Adebayo Ogunlesi is currently Chairman and Managing Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, a $15 billion joint venture whose initial investors included Credit Suisse and General Electric. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs.
Prior to his current role, he was Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer of Credit Suisse, based in New York. He previously served as a member of Credit Suisse’s Executive Board and Management Council and chaired the Chairman’s Board. Previously, he was the Global Head of Investment Banking at Credit Suisse.
Since joining Credit Suisse in 1983, Mr. 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.
Prior to joining Credit Suisse, Mr.Ogunlesi was an attorney in the corporate practice group of the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore.From 1980-81 he served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court.
He is married to an optometrist, Dr. Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi, and the family is blessed with one son.
Adebayo Ogunlesi is a leading executive at Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation (CSFB), an arm of the Zurich-based global investment bank with offices on six continents. In February 2002, he was named head of CSFB’s investment banking group.
The rise of this Harvard-educated lawyer prompted Time magazine to name him to its “People to Watch in International Business” list a few weeks later, and Ogunlesi was also ranked by Fortune magazine as the seventh most powerful black executive in the United States.
Following standard practice for such Ivy League law school students and recent graduates, Ogunlesi then clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. At the time, Ogunlesi was the first to earn his law degree and a master’s degree in business administration.
He entered private practice with the firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore in New York City. In 1983, when he had been there less than a year, he received a phone call from a friend back in Nigeria who was working at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy. The friend needed a financial adviser for a planned natural gas venture, and asked Ogunlesi for help.
Ogunlesi has been hailed as one of Wall Street’s most influential new names and as one of its most impressive cost-cutters in recent memory. He once said in New York Times, “I told you, I never wanted to be an investment banker.”
“Adebayo brings extensive experience in finance and the global capital markets to our board of directors,” Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman, said in a statement. “Our board and our shareholders will benefit from Adebayo’s wealth of knowledge and rigorous thinking.”
He has engineered financing for some of the biggest energy projects throughout the world. His firm, Credit Suisse First Boston,under Ogunlesi’s direction, helped AES acquire generation assets from Edison International in California with financing in the $725 million area. Ogunlesi’s division helped Texaco and Mission Energy raise about $400 million for Tri-Energy.