Who is Adebayo Ogunlesi? Get to Know the Nigerian Entrepreneur Who Just Sold his Company for $12.5bn!

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For some (young) people (in Nigeria), their first interaction with the name Adebayo Ogunlesi was in 2016 when he was appointed by the then U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to be part of a group of business leaders to frequently advise him on economic matters. The “President’s Strategic and Policy Forum”, as it was called, was set up to call upon some of America’s most highly respected and successful business leaders to share their specific experience and knowledge to help Trump’s administration achieve its goals.

For many other young people, Ogunlesi came into their radar when his name came up in Burna Boy‘s song “Wonderful” which was part of his Grammy-winning album “Twice As Tall”. “As I dey hustle like Adebayo Ogunlesi (No go talk say me I too lazy),” Burna Boy sang, leaving young people googling who this hustler was.

Today, he is trending for yet another good reason as Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), the private equity firm he founded and is Chairman and Managing Partner at, was acquired by BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest money manager according to Bloomberg, for $12.5bn.

BlackRock, who currently manages $10trn across all markets, according to Reuters, will pay $3 billion in cash and 12 million BlackRock shares (about $9.5bn) to GIP who currently manages more than $100bn in assets. The deal will see Ogunlesi join BlackRock’s board and global executive committee, reports Bloomberg.

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So, who is this guy?

Family

Ogunlesi, who hails from Sagamu, Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria, is the son of Professor Theophilus O. Ogunlesi, the first Nigerian Professor of Medicine.

Ogunlesi, in 1985, married Dr. Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi, a British-born (retired) optometrist who acquired her degree from City University in London. After launching her practice in London, she moved permanently to the US, obtaining certification from SUNY College of Optometry. They both have two children Geoffrey Ogunlesi, who is a music executive, and Carl Ogunlesi who is a music producer.

Education

He attended King’s College, Lagos and bagged a first class degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University. He went on to receive a JD-MBA (a degree program that lets students receive a Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration) from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School in 1979.

Career

While studying, Ogunlesi worked in corporate law with New York City firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore as a summer associate. After his studies, he served as law clerk to associate justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court between 1980 and 1981.

In 1983, he joined the project finance group at First Boston, an investment bank as an advisor, working on transactions across the world.

In 1997, he became the Head of the Global Energy Group at Credit Suisse. He then went on to become the Global Head of its Investment Banking Division between 2002 and 2004; Member of Executive Board and Management Committee (2002 – 2006); and Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer (2004 – 2006).

In 2006, he founded GIP, which invests worldwide in infrastructure assets in the energy, transport, water and waste industry sectors. Between 2006 and 2018, GIP, where Ogunlesi is Chairman and Managing Partner, bought London City Airpot (2006), acquired majority stake in London Gatwick Airport (2009), bought Edinburgh Airport (2012), and bought Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (2018).

Ogunlesi joined Golman Sachs in 2013 as Director and became a Lead Director in 2014.

In this video, Ogunlesi and Larry Fink, the Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, discuss how the deal came about. Watch:

 

 

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