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Monday, July 5, 2010

Fake Gatwick owner story causes contention between blacks

LONDON - A misleading story being distributed about the purchase of the loss making Gatwick Airport by Global Infrastructure Partners has caused division across Pan African communities.

When Nigerian investment banker, Adebayo Ogunlesi, secured the top job of chairman of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) it is unlikely he could have known that he would one day be described by thousands as the owner of the US based group of private investors. Despite GIP being a joint venture between Credit Suisse and General Electric Infrastructure, a viral internet campaign has grown describing him as the new owner of Gatwick Airport after GIP agreed to buy it from BAA for £1.5bn following its £110m loss year end April 2009.

Ironically the story is now becoming a source of contention causing division between a minority of Africans describing themselves as Nigerians and ‘blacks’. Some believe that the fake headline stating a ‘black man buys Gatwick airport’ should have referred to Ogunlesi as a Nigerian. It is also argued that ‘black’ people want to claim the ‘success’ which should instead be owned by egocentric ‘Nigerians’.

The misunderstanding may have been caused by the misinterpretation of a headline published first by Sky News that read ‘Gatwick Buyer Promises First Class Service’. This seems to have lead to the growth of conspiracy theories arguing there was a media whiteout denying a significant tale of African history despite the story being widely published during October 2009.

Toyin Agbetu, a Pan African writer from the Ligali publishing house said, “This is not the first time such confusion has been spread within our community. From the promotion of the fake Willie Lynch speech and alleged ‘pro-black’ poems by prominent Africans in America to the support of the bogus Matrix/Terminator claims by our talented sista, a little research will always reveal the Truth that our Pan African history is full of many real and greater success stories including those based on facts detailing the mighty deeds of our Ancestors.”

Bayo Ogunlesi is the Chairman and Managing Partner of GIP and is based in New York City. GIP is a 5.64 billion US dollar fund managed for the benefit of its investors by a professional investment executive team of partners, each of whom is a direct investor in the fund.

Ogunlesi previously served as Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Client Officer of Credit Suisse’s Investment Banking Division and was also responsible for their worldwide capital markets (debt and equity), mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and advisory, industry, country and regional banking businesses. He was appointed Non-Executive Chairman of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) after which he claimed “My role as Chairman of AFC will provide a unique opportunity for me to contribute to the development of Africa by helping to build what I am sure will become a leading force in the financing of infrastructure assets on the continent.”

However he is not known to be a Pan Africanist and his long history in corporate finance does not reveal any interests in supporting grass roots projects that benefit the empowerment of African people worldwide.

The acquisition of Gatwick was handled by Michael McGhee, GIP’s partner in London. The ownership page of the Gatwick Airport Website states; “Gatwick Airport Limited (Gatwick) is the company licensed to operate Gatwick Airport by the Civil Aviation Authority. Gatwick is wholly-owned by Ivy Bidco Limited (Ivy), a company formed to undertake the acquisition of Gatwick. Ivy is ultimately controlled by funds managed by Global Infrastructure Management, LLC, part of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).”

There are no Africans on the Board of Directors.

Toyin Agbetu concluded, “It is my belief that the forthcoming memorials commemorating the achievements of Marcus Mosiah Garvey this year will reveal we already have mighty work to build upon. Once this message is understood then perhaps we will all recognise there is no need to support or fabricate manipulative myths designed to appease ego” 

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