Blackstone's Black Rhino hires ex-Nigerian central banker

Lamido Sanusi, who last year became Emir of one Nigeria’s most influential Muslim authorities, will join the African-focused developer as chairman.

Black Rhino, a portfolio company of US-based The Blackstone Group (Blackstone), has named Lamido Sanusi as chairman of its board of directors.

Sanusi occupies an influential position among Nigerian Muslims, having been named Emir of Kano, the country’s second-highest Muslim authority, in June 2014.

He previously had a 25-year career in the banking industry, which began in 1985 at ICON Merchant Bankers, a subsidiary of New York-based Morgan Guaranty Trust and now-defunct UK lender Baring Brothers. He then ran the credit and risk management division at the United Bank for Africa and moved to First Bank in 2005, where he became a managing director in 2009.

Sanusi was appointed governor of the Nigerian Central Bank in June of the same year, a role which won him plaudits for his macroeconomic management skills and reformist ambitions. He was ousted in February last year after revealing that $20 billion had gone missing from Nigeria’s state oil company at a difficult time for Goodluck Jonathan, then President of the country.

“One can scarcely imagine a stronger addition to the Black Rhino Board. The Emir has unparalleled insights into Africa’s regional and local socio-economic development needs and the role that power and infrastructure development can play,” said Brian Herlihy, founder and chief executive of Black Rhino, in a statement.

In addition to being a shareholder in the business, Blackstone is helping build the Black Rhino team, which is split across to main offices in Johannesburg and Dakar. The company was formed in January 2012 to develop and invest in African power generation and fuel transportation projects.

Last August, it announced a partnership with West African conglomerate Dangote Industries to jointly invest $5 billion over the next five years in energy infrastructure projects across sub-Saharan Africa.