During the early years of his career, Bolaji Balogun was primarily identified as the son of one of Nigeria’s notable bankers and founders, Olasubomi Balogun. Long after his father retired, however, Bolaji moved on to make a name for himself in investment banking. He built a solid reputation by closing groundbreaking deals and even founded his own investment banking group.
Bolaji decided early on that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as a banker and that guided his pursuit of education. He attended Igbobi College, Lagos, before moving to the UK where he attended Charterhouse School, Godalming, Surrey; then earned his first degree in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London.
Bolaji’s career began in investment banking and securities trading under the First City Group. He started in the early 1990s as Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer of CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos, Nigeria and held this position until 2001. From January 1996, he became Executive Director of FCMB Capital Markets, still under the group.
He finally left the FCMB group in 2001 to try his hand at the mobile communication industry. In a way, this movement was itself indicative of a desire to create one’s 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 funds for the offering. Bolaji was part of the license bid auction team and he actually led the capital raising and license bid auction process for the Econet Wireless Nigeria license.
Alongside MTN Nigeria and MTEL, Econet won the tender and obtained a Digital Mobile License (DML), and became Nigeria’s first mobile operator. Bolaji became one of the founding directors. During his 5 years at Econet, he also worked as Director of Business Development and Strategy, as well as Director of Marketing at various times.
In December 2005, he planned and executed the $1.67 billion sale of Econet Wireless to Celtel, which remains the largest successful exit from a private investment in Nigeria. Either way, Bolaji has proven in those four years that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It was undoubtedly with a great sense of fulfillment that he returned to his first love, investment banking, after showing what he was capable of.
Chapel Hill Foundation
Returning to investment banking in 2005, Bolaji Balogun decided to strike out on his own – a decision quite similar to what his father had done when he set up City Securities Limited nearly 30 years earlier. He founded Chapel Hill Denham, an investment bank. The business has now become a group and Bolaji is Group Managing Director of Chapel Hill Denham and Managing Partner and Managing Director of Chapel Hill Advisory Partners Limited.
The group focuses on investment banking, investment management and securities trading and also prides itself on being Nigeria’s leading alternative asset manager. Chapel Hill Denham also has particular interests in the economic development of Africa and Nigeria, targeting sectors such as infrastructure, energy and renewables, real estate, SMEs, financial inclusion, health and education.
In addition to leading Chapel Hill, Bolaji Balogun sits on the board of Endeavor Nigeria as Vice Chairman; and is also Chief Investment Officer of Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund. He is a director of Trustfund Pensions, one of Nigeria’s largest pension fund managers, and SME NG, a Nigerian impact investment platform, which invests in women and youth-owned Nigerian SMEs.
He was previously chairman of Nahco FTZ Limited and a director of Nahco Avaince Plc and NASD Plc. He was Chairman of the Board 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 is also Director of Major Client Relations and an excellent manager of high-level relationships with governments, regulators and corporations. He is also an economic commentator and shares his knowledge on financial markets, development economics, infrastructure and SMEs in interviews and commentaries.