In the early years of his career, Bolaji Balogun was majorly identified as the son of one of Nigeria’s notable banker and founder – Olasubomi Balogun. Long after his father’s retirement, however, Bolaji has gone ahead to earn a name for himself in the investment banking space. He has built a track record of closing groundbreaking deals and even founded his own investment banking group.
Bolaji decided quite early that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as a banker and this guided his educational pursuit. He attended Igbobi College, Lagos, before moving to the United Kingdom where he attended Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey; and then got his First degree in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London.
Bolaji’s career started in investment banking and securities trading under the First City Group. He started out in the early 90s as Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer of CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos, Nigeria and he held that position till 2001. From January 1996, he became Executive Director at FCMB Capital Markets, still under the Group.
He finally left the FCMB Group in 2001 to try his hands in the mobile communication industry. In a way, this move was itself significant of a desire to create his own luck.
The Econet test
In 2001, there was to be a bid for the $285 million GSM license which would later be described as “the most expensive license ever issued in Africa at the time.” Strive Masiyiwa assembled a consortium of 22 investors to raise money for the bid. Bolaji was part of the licence bid auction team and he, in fact, led the capital raising and license bid auction process for the Econet Wireless Nigeria license.
Alongside MTN Nigeria and MTEL, Econet won the bid and was granted a Digital Mobile License (DML), and became Nigeria’s first mobile operator. Bolaji became one of the founding Directors. In the 5 years he was at Econet, he also worked as Chief Business Development and Strategy Officer, as well as Chief Marketing Officer at different times.
In December 2005, he planned and executed the $1.67 billion sale of Econet Wireless to Celtel, which remains Nigeria’s single largest successful exit from a private investment. In every single way, Bolaji proved in those four years that the apple did not fall far from the tree. It must have been with a great sense of fulfilment that he returned to his first love – investment banking – having shown what he was capable of handling.
Founding Chapel Hill
Returning to investment banking in 2005, Bolaji Balogun decided to strike out on his own – a move quite similar to what his father did when he set up the City Securities Limited, almost 30 years earlier. He founded Chapel Hill Denham, an investment banking firm. The firm has grown into a group now and Bolaji serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Chapel Hill Denham Group and Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Chapel Hill Advisory Partners Limited.
The group is focused on investment banking, investment management and securities trading and also prides itself as Nigeria’s leading alternative asset manager. Chapel Hill Denham also has special interests in Africa and Nigeria’s economic development targeting sectors such as Infrastructure, Energy and Renewables, Real Estate, SMEs, Financial Inclusion, Healthcare and Education.
Besides running Chapel Hill, Bolaji Balogun serves on the board of Endeavor Nigeria as Vice Chairman; and is also the Chief Investment Officer of the Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund. He is a Director at Trustfund Pensions, one of Nigeria’s largest pension fund managers, and SME NG, a Nigerian impact investment platform, investing in Nigerian women and youth-owned SMEs.
He formerly served as Chairman on Nahco FTZ Limited, and Director of Nahco Avaince Plc and NASD Plc. He was Board Chairman of Lafarge Africa Plc from May 2015 to June 2020, and was a Director on the board of Lafarge Wapco Nigeria Plc from March 2005 to May 2015.
Balogun was appointed to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Africa Advisory Board in September 2009.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he also serves as Chief relationship officer for prime clients and excellent high-level relationship management with government, regulatory and corporate clients. He is also an Economic commentator and severally shares his knowledge in financial markets, development economics, infrastructure and SMEs in interviews and commentaries.