5 things to know about Adebayo Ogunlesi, the Nigerian selling his firm to BlackRock for $12.5bn

Abu Mubarik January 17, 2024
GIP Founding Partner, chairman and CEO Adebayo Ogunlesi. Photo: Sreenshot image/Harvard Business School video

BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset management company, announced on Friday that it is acquiring Adebayo Ogunlesi’s Global Infrastructure Partners in a multi-billion-dollar deal.

Global Infrastructure Partners, which has billions of dollars in assets under management, invests worldwide in infrastructure assets in the energy, transport, water, and waste industry sectors.

A statement by BlackRock said it would pay $3 billion in cash and offer Ogunlesi and five other co-founders of Global Infrastructure Partners 12 million shares in BlackRock, worth about $9.5 billion, making them the second largest shareholders in the global asset management giant.

Per the agreement, Ogunlesi will be appointed to the board of BlackRock at the next scheduled board meeting after the close of the deal. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

“The combination of GIP with BlackRock’s highly complementary infrastructure offerings creates a comprehensive global infrastructure franchise with differentiated origination and asset management capabilities,” the statement said.

The transaction between Ogunlesi and BlackRock has got the world talking about him and his entrepreneurial exploits.

Here are five things to know about him:

His father is Nigeria’s first professor of medicine

He is a Nigerian from Ogun State. He is the son of Theophilus Ogunlesi, the first professor of medicine in Nigeria, according to Ventures Africa.

Ogunlesi was born 70 years ago in Nigeria, and like his father, he was a bright student who earned three degrees from some of the world’s top universities after graduating from King’s College in Lagos and going to Britain in the 1970s. He received his undergraduate degree from Oxford University and later got his law degree and his MBA from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, respectively.

He was the first non-American clerk for a U.S. Supreme Court judge

Ogunlesi started his career as the first non-American clerk for a U.S. Supreme Court judge and then a lawyer for the Cravath, Swaine & Moore law firm in New York. In 1983, he decided to venture into the banking industry, starting with Credit Suisse First Boston.

He spent 20 years there playing multiple roles, including as an adviser on a Nigerian gas project and years later as chief client officer and executive vice chairman. He quit the banking industry because he wanted to try something new.

He co-founded Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in 2006

In 2006, he decided to become his own boss and co-founded Global Infrastructure Partners with five investment professionals. The company started in New York and in its first year of operation, it acquired London City Airport, then Gatwick, the UK’s second airport in terms of transit, before the Edinburgh Airport in Scotland and Sydney Airport in Australia.

Also, Global Infrastructure Partners has a stake in the French company Suez, Vantage Tower, and ADNOC Gas Pipelines, a subsidiary of Emirati hydrocarbon giant ADNOC.

He is a billionaire

Ogunlesi is one of the billionaires in the world. Following the BlackRock and Global Infrastructure Partners deal, his net worth is expected to hit $2.3 billion.

He worked with Trump as his economic adviser

In 2016, then-U.S. President-elect Donald Trump named Ogunlesi to his newly established Strategic and Policy Forum. A statement said Ogunlesi will join 15 other business leaders from the private sector who will advise Trump on how to spur job creation and bring jobs back to the country. 

“The forum is expected to advise the U.S. president on economic growth and employment creation, by fusing members’ business experience with public policy,” the statement said.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 17, 2024

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