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Nigerian, Adebayo Ogunlesi, 56, acquires London Gatwick Airport

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A Nigerian, Adebayo Ogunlesi, has acquired the London Gatwick Airport as the new owner. The Gatwick deal is a £1.455 billion agreement with BAA Airports Limited.

Nigerian, Adebayo Ogunlesi, 56, acquires London Gatwick Airport

Ogunlesi, 56, is the chairman and managing partner, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an independent investment fund based in New York City with worldwide stake in infrastructure assets.

According to the report, Ogunlesi, the son of an 86-year old professor of medicine has presided over a great number of sweet deals that made him the envy of his peers abroad even if his forays into the brisk world multi-billion dollars deals are barely talked about in his home country.

GIP will be investing through Ivy Bidco Limited, a limited liability company registered in England, established for the purpose of making the acquisition.

Bidco will pay cash consideration of £1,455 million for the entire share capital of Gatwick Airport Limited on a cash-free, debt-free basis.

Ogunlesi says the acquisition of Gatwick is a landmark deal for GIP and adds another quality asset to his firm’s rapidly expanding portfolio.

He said, “we see significant scope to apply both our strong operational focus and our knowledge of the airports sector to make Gatwick an airport of choice.”

He began stacking up his big deals profile when he joined the top-shelf New York law firm, Cravath, Swain & Moore. It was at the law firm that he jumped at the chance to advise First Boston (which later acquired Credit Suisse in 1997 to form Credit Suisse First Boston or CSFB) on a hugely lucrative Nigerian gas project.

The success of that deal landed him his first big pay move to First Boston. For First Boston, he worked on project finance, brokering deals in which lenders finance assets like oil refineries and mines and are repaid with revenues generated by those enterprises.

Based in New York City and traveling to emerging markets, he built CSFB’s project-finance business into the world’s best, in part by encouraging corporations and governments to tap public debt markets in addition to commercial lenders.

His teacher while at King’s College, Lagos, J. Namme, said that Bayo, as he is fondly called, loves getting things done. Perhaps, the London Gatwick Airport acquisition best underscores his desire to get things done and in the big way too. The Gatwick deal illustrates his global influence in infrastructure assets deals.

Ogunlesi has lived in New York for 20 years and is active in volunteer work. But he also cultivates his ties to Africa. He informally advises the Nigerian government on privatisation. And last summer Manute Bol, former NBA center, visited Ogunlesi in his Park Avenue office, seeking donations for a charitable foundation in former basketball star Manute Bol’s homeland, Sudan.

Ogunlesi walked Bol around the hallways, introducing him to junior staff. It was just another day in the Bayosphere.

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, 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.

Ogunlesi attended the prestigious King’s College, Lagos. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association. He was a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the Yale School.

Ogunlesi, whose father was the first Nigerian-born medical professor, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford and then earned law and business degrees from Harvard. In the US, he is known as the Nigerian who clerked for late Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, who they say was unable to pronounce his name and quickly dubbed him Obeedoogee. Colleagues and friends call him Bayo.

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