The ones to call

Flip through consumer, retail or healthcare pitchbooks and you’ll be sure to find career investment bankers touting 25 or 30 years of experience in their sector. But infrastructure is a relatively new vertical for most banks, and experienced advisors can be hard to come by. When you do your research of who is who in infrastructure M&A work, the following ten names are bound to pop up. We present them here in alphabetical order*

Stephen Allen
Executive director and global head of infrastructure and utilities advisory,
Macquarie Capital Advisers, Sydney

Industry insiders tell us it is often hard to tell whether someone at Macquarie is an investor or an advisor. Stephen Allen exemplifies this, and he also points the way toward the future. The Sydney-based executive director spent four years as the head of Macquarie Infrastructure Group, Macquarie’s listed toll road fund, but is now back on the advisory side and is “leading the charge” within Macquarie to turn it into a leading third-party infrastructure advisor, according to one industry insider familiar with him. Allen was the point man behind Macquarie’s investment in Cintra and was also an advisor to Transurban in its 1996 bid to develop the Melbourne City Link.

George Bilicic
Chairman of Power, Utilities, Infrastructure,
Lazard & Co, New York

In the US, the infrastructure sector most open to private sector participation is power and energy. George Bilicic is among the lead advisors in the sector. He advised Texas utility TXU on its 2007 buyout by KKR, TPG and Goldman Sachs, the $45 billion deal that set the record for the largest-ever leveraged buyout.  Other advisory clients whom he has successfully advised on closed deals include electric utility Duke Energy and natural gas utility KeySpan. Lazard found his dealmaking skills valuable enough to woo him back from KKR after he spent less than six months spearheading the firm’s infrastructure business last year.

Rob Collins
Managing director, head of infrastructure banking for the Americas,
Greenhill & Co, Chicago

Greenhill’s new head of infrastructure for the Americas is probably most famous for advising Pennsylvania on its attempted $12.8 billion turnpike lease while he was at Morgan Stanley. But the hot-topic transaction is hardly his only claim to fame. In the last five years, Rob Collins has advised on almost every big US infrastructure public-to-private that closed, including the $1.8 billion Chicago Skyway, the $3.8 billion Indiana Toll Road and Chicago’s $563 million underground parking.  He also featured in several successful private-to-private deals, including the sale of Amports to Highstar Capital and Florida East Coast Industries on its $3.5 billion acquisition by Fortress. Needless to say, Morgan Stanley was sad to see him leave.

Gonzalo Garcia
Partner, head of EMEA Infrastructure and
Utilities Advisory, Goldman Sachs, London

Bidders in German utility RWE’s 2006 auction of Thames Water will likely remember the Chilean accent of Gonzalo Garcia, the Goldman Sachs banker at the centre of the action. He won the acclaim of industry insiders for his handling of that sale process, which turned the London water utility into an £8 billion rainfall for RWE. He also led RWE’s IPO of American Water, the US’ largest regulated water utility, and has advised on a number of utility deals across Latin America, Asia and Europe over the last 16 years. Last year, his peers elected him one of the 94 new partners of the firm – a status also enjoyed by one other well-known former Goldman infra man, Mark Florian.

Read Gomm
Managing director, head of utilities and infrastructure group,
Lexicon Partners, London

Lexicon Partners is a global M&A boutique with an enviable client list in the infrastructure business. One recent highlight was a mandate to advise GIC Special Investments, Citi Infrastructure Investors, Infracapital Partners and HSBC on their £5.5 billion Kelda acquisition in 2008. Lexicon has nearly 20 executives dedicated to the sector. Asked to name a favourite, UK practitioners chose Read Gomm, the firm’s head of utilities and infrastructure, who also advised 3i, CPPIB, Colonial First State and IFM on their £5.7 billion buyout of AWG in 2006. “Large infrastructure and utilities team and a strong list of relevant deals in the space,” says one practitioner.

Philip Iley
Head of transport and logistics group,
Credit Suisse, London

Investors like to joke that airports are nothing more than malls with landing strips attached to them, so governments have no business owning them. And when they decide to privatise them, more often than not the person they bring in is Philip Iley. The head of Credit Suisse’s transport and logistics group has advised governments in Mexico, Hungary, Germany, Thailand, Switzerland, Australia, Abu Dhabi, the UK and New Zealand on airport sales or IPOs. Most recently, even though the deal didn’t close, he helped Chicago get a $2.5 billion offer on the table for Midway Airport. And when GIP’s Adebayo Ogunlesi set his sights on London’s Gatwick Airport, who did he contact? You guessed it.

Thomas Lanctot
Principal and head of infrastructure public finance,
William Blair & Co, Chicago

If you responded to Chicago’s request for qualifications for either of its two historic parking transactions, you’ll probably remember drafting a letter that began with “Dear Mr. Lanctot”. The head of infrastructure advisory at the boutique investment bank is highly regarded among peers for his role in bringing those two deals to a close – at a nice $1.7 billion in proceeds to Chicago – with sources describing him as an advisor who is “pragmatic” and “gets things done”. Though primarily focused on public-sector sell-side advisory, he has also advised the preferred bidder on Harrisburg’s parking system, LambdaStar Infrastructure Partners. He’s next setting his sights on California, where he added two senior public finance bankers, Mike Placencia and Esther Berg, to his team.

Stephen Paine
Global head of infrastructure and head of energy, utilities and transport EMEA,
UBS, London

UBS’ Stephen Paine is probably as close as you can get to finding a career investment banker focused on infrastructure. He has advised on more than 40 PPP deals and has 20 years’ experience on anyone who may have chosen to enter the sector only this year. He is perhaps best known for advising Network Rail on its successful £9 billion bid for Railtrack in 2002, and Tube Lines on the £2.1 billion refinancing of its London Underground PPP concession. He has also completed advisory mandates outside the UK, in places like Saudi Arabia, the US, Portugal, France and Brazil, covering everything from airports and roads to social infrastructure. For length, breadth and depth of experience, Paine is hard to beat.

Oleg Pankratov
Head of infrastructure capital and project finance, co-head of global banking,
VTB Capital, London

If you believe Vladimir Putin that Russia will spend $1 trillion on infrastructure investment in 2007-2017, then the country is probably on your list of places to invest in. If so, chances are you’ve run into VTB’s Oleg Pankratov. The former head of European infrastructure capital at ABN AMRO now leads a Russia-focused advisory team at VTB that last year cleared 15 advisory mandates. Currently, he is the lead advisor to the preferred bidder on the €1.4 billion concession of St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport – the largest ever PPP in the country. He also led the advisory for Italy’s Eni and Enel in their $5.8 billion acquisition of Yukos’ gas assets. If you want a slice of Putin’s $1 trillion, talk to Oleg.

Paul Ryan
Head of infrastructure advisory group,
JPMorgan, New York

Originally from Australia, where he was based during the first three years of his time in infrastructure advisory, Paul Ryan now has a solid fan base in the US, where he’s spent the last four years. That’s because in addition to advising on deals that have the potential to move the industry forward in the US – his team is advising CenterPoint on its historic bid for the Port of Virginia, Los Angeles on its parking meter monetisation, and Denver on its $2 billion FasTracks transportation programme – he also does education and outreach with the public sector. Most recently, he taught in a workshop for public sector transportation executives co-hosted by AASHTO, an industry group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.