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U.S.-based Nigerian leads others in $1.3b acquisition of Edinburgh Airport

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A NEW York-based Nigerian, Bayo Ogunlesi,  has led his fund management company, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) in acquiring Edinburgh Airport from the British Airports Limited, (BAA) for £807 million ($1.3billion).

The sale complied with an order by the Competition Commission, the United Kingdom’s antitrust watchdog, asking that BAA should dispose of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airport. Ogunlesi’s GIP saw off stiff opposition from a consortium led by JP Morgan Asset Management’s infrastructure fund in landing the deal.

In a statement released on Monday, Ogunlesi, the Chairman and Managing Partner of the $5.64 billion fund managers said: “Edinburgh Airport is a high quality infrastructure asset. Its acquisition is a landmark deal for GIP and represents the first investment by GIP II.”

Ogunlesi, whose fund management company also has a 75 per cent interest in London City Airport (acquired in 2006) and another 42 per cent controlling stake in Gatwick Airport (acquired in 2009), continued: “We see significant opportunity to apply our tested and successful operational expertise and our knowledge of the global airports sector to develop and enhance the performance of Edinburgh Airport in years to come.”

Although City analysts had expected the asking price for the airport to be in the region of £500 million, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which served as financial adviser to GIP for this deal, would almost certainly have suggested that the fund management firm raise the stake to the £807.2 million which it would eventually part with.

With the bar raised so high, other bidders could not match the purse.  And this might have been the reason why it not only saw off JP Morgan, which led a consortium that included United States teachers pension fund, TIAA–Cref.

Although TIAA-Cref pulled out from the deal earlier this month,  JP Morgan and other competitors like buyout groups 3i and Carlyle hung in there, but could not respond to the $800 million that Ogunlesi’s company put on the table.

With its experience, GIP is expected to improve among others, the efficiency of the airport, particularly the amount of time passengers spend in check–in and the security and baggage handling of the Scottish based airport.  Edinburgh, Scotland’s largest airport, handles  more than nine million passengers a year and 100,000 flights.

Prior to becoming Chairman of GIP, Ogunlesi was Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer of Credit Suisse’s Investment Banking Division with senior responsibility for Credit Suisse’s corporate and sovereign investment banking clients.

Between 2002 and 2004, he was Head of Credit Suisse’s Global Investment Banking Department, responsible for worldwide capital markets ( debt and equity), mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and advisory, industry, country and regional banking businesses.

Before his journey into the world of investment banking, Ogunlesi   started from ground zero and once served Thurgood Marshall, the Honourable Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court as Law Clerk between 1980 and 1981 . He then worked his way to become an attorney with the New York law firm of Cravath , Swaine  & Moore. He also held other posts before his appointment as the Chairman of GIP.

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