Sadek Wahba, the global head of infrastructure at Morgan Stanley Infrastructure (MSI), the infrastructure arm of US investment bank Morgan Stanley, has stepped down from his role and left the investment bank earlier this month, several sources familiar with the situation told Infrastructure Investor. It is not yet known where Wahba will go to next.
A Morgan Stanley spokesman confirmed Wahba's departure and said that Markus Hottenrott, now chief investment officer, Anne Valentine Andrews, chief operating officer, and Jim Wilmott, now sole head of Europe, are co-heading MSI. Prior to Wahba's departure, Hottenrott used to be co-head of Europe with Jim Wilmott.
Wahba, an economist by training, headed MSI and its $4 billion global infrastructure fund, launched in 2006 and which is now close to being fully invested. Most recently, Wahba presided over MSI’s sale of its 50 percent stake in Chilean electricity firm SAESA to Canada’s Alberta Investment Management Corporation for an undisclosed amount.
Other standout deals this year included MSI’s $400 million joint venture with Spanish developer Isolux Corsan, to invest in the Indian transport sector, and its $450 million acquisition of a natural gas distribution network in Madrid, which turned MSI into Spain’s third-largest gas company.
Wahba was particularly proud of the latter, a bolt-on acquisition which he characterised in an interview with Infrastructure Investor as “a very symbolic and emblematic deal of who we are”. According to MSI’s former global head, the acquisition highlighted MSI’s penchant for proprietary deals.
In 2009, MSI was invited to bid on a limited auction for a natural gas distribution network being sold by Spanish utility Gas Natural. Morgan Stanley and Portuguese utility Galp Energia teamed up to bid €800 million for the business, Madrileña Red de Gas, which delivers natural gas to more than 500,000 connection points in the Madrid metropolitan area. That deal closed in April 2010.
“Fast forward nine months later, and we did an exclusive deal for [another] 300,000 connection points,” Wahba said at the time. The seller was the same Gas Natural that had earlier sold its Madrid business to MSI in auction.
“We are now the third-largest [gas] company in Spain and the second in Madrid,” Wahba said. “That’s the kind of thing that I think is a quintessential MSI deal, where we capitalise on our existing platform and we make another, additional platform acquisition,” he enthused.
For a self-styled “pessimist by nature,” it was a rare moment of self-congratulation.