A high-flying Nigerian entrepreneur and former executive at Credit Suisse First Boston Bank is the leader of a new investment group that owns Londons Gatwick Airport, the second largest and busiest airport in Britain.
Adebayo Ogunlesi, 57, who used to be based in New York City, is chairman and managing partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, a $5.64 billion dollar private equity firm he founded in 2006 with funding from many investors, including Credit Suisse and General Electric. His firm, which invests in many areas including oil, bought Gatwick in December 2009 at a cost of roughly $2.2 billion.
Before he started the firm a few years ago, Londons financial world, famously known as City, never had a black man heading a private equity firm. The only other black chief executive is Tidjane Thiam, who heads Prudential, which is listed in the FTSE 100.
Ogunlesis success didnt come easy. He made a name for himself as a hard-charging, globe-trotting, deal-maker who led Credit Suisse First Boston at the height of a great transition a decade ago. He helped turn around the global investment bank at a time when it was losing $1 billion and faced accusations that its advice to investors was biased by its desire to please large clients.
He graduated with an undergraduate degree from Oxford University in England before going to Harvards Law School and Business School for a JD and MBA, respectively. He was one of only three foreign students admitted directly to the storied law school in the late 1970s.
After a clerkship with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the early 1980s and a few years of corporate practice at New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, he joined Credit Suisse in 1983, rising to Executive Vice Chairman of the investment bank by 2002. He says he wants to revitalize Gatwick, which handles more than 30 million passengers annually.