PAVING THE PATH FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
A trained financial economist, investment banker and entrepreneur, Sonnie Babatunde Ayere has changed the way people looked at investments. A leader par excellence, he is known for having a futuristic vision that has transformed the financial market of Africa for ever
Mr. Ayere was born in London to Nigerian Parents, Gideon and Ebunoluwa Alatise Ayere in 1966. He was in London for the first few years of his life and returned to Nigeria in 1970. After finishing his school and college from Lagos, Nigeria he went to Scotland for higher studies. He Completed MA (Hons) degree in Financial Economics (2:1) from the University of Dundee, Scotland, and later an MBA in Finance from the Business School, University of London, England. He also studied Corporate Finance at London Business School.
Mr. Ayere was a name to reckon with even before he started his entrepreneurial journey. He began his career with NatWest Bank in London as a Corporate Banking Officer. He went on to work at Sumitomo Mitsui Bank working in corporate and property finance. Soon, he transferred to the structured finance department of the bank in 1997, completing the first Japanese CLO securitization transaction, working with the Lehman Brothers team. He left Sumitomo Mitsui to join BMO Nesbitt Burns London in 1998 as part of the team responsible for setting up a $20 billion Fixed Income Structured Investment Vehicle (SIV). He had already led or been a part of many firsts in the investment sector when he joined the International Finance Corporation (a subsidiary of the World Bank). At IFC, he worked on the development of the Nigerian bond market. Mr. Ayere’s role was of a structured finance specialist for sub-Saharan Africa. He developed structured finance and securitization transactions in addition to creating instruments that support value in debt capital markets. The initiatives he started laid the foundation of structured finance market in the continent.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
While he was working on the complex financial solutions, he got introduced to securitization in 1997 and that piqued his interest. He was keen to learn the means and ways of financing large corporate projects, private firms and government institutions. He had a very innate talent of devising outof-the-box solutions for structured finance. He truly believes that a certain level of creativity is absolutely necessary when it comes to striking the perfect equilibrium between different financial requirements.
It was with this underlying belief that he founded Dunn Loren Merrifield (DLM) Capital Group in 2009. DLM Capital Group gives bespoke financial solutions to all the clients. He wanted to create new paradigms, offer new solutions and contribute exclusively to the financial sector of Africa. Mr. Ayere is a great believer in two tenets of good business – clients come first and people are the greatest asset. He has built DLM Capital Group from ground up on these and other core values. It is his vision and strategic thinking that has made the company what it is today – Nigeria’s top financial powerhouse. Mr. Ayere has said many times that their complete focus at DLM Capital Group is to provide “new and simple solutions to the sometimes-complex financial needs of our clients.” Undoubtedly, DLM Capital Group thrives on a culture of innovation and creative thinking.
“IT IS HIS VISION THAT HAS MADE THE COMPANY WHAT IT IS TODAY – NIGERIA’S TOP FINANCIAL POWERHOUSE. HE HAS SAID MANY TIMES THAT THEIR COMPLETE FOCUS AT DLM CAPITAL GROUP IS TO PROVIDE ‘NEW AND SIMPLE SOLUTIONS TO THE SOMETIMES COMPLEX FINANCIAL NEEDS OF OUR CLIENTS’”
AN UNENDING SERIES OF RECOGNITION
Mr. Ayere’s work has been felt far and wide. Under his stewardship, DLM Capital Group has won many awards and Mr. Ayere has also been recognized by the industry many times. DLM Capital Group won the award for the best debt house 2011 and best investment bank 2012. More recently, it won the ‘Innovative Investment Bank of the Year’ at Business Day Financial Institutions Award (BAFI) 2020. At the same event, Mr. Ayere was named the ‘Investment CEO of the Decade’ for establishing DLM Capital Group as the most creative solutions provider for the debt and equity needs of corporations, institutions and governments in Nigeria as well as a powerhouse advisory and restructuring counsel from 2010 to 2020.
He has also won the West Africa Nobles Forum Award; Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Africa Leadership Award, Ghana; Best Male Entrepreneur, Investment Services; International Business Star Award, Ghana; Winner Top 10 CEOs in Nigeria Insight Global Awards, UK; Africa’s Patriotic Personality of the Year Award from LEADS Africa and many others. He was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Science (DSc) from the European-American University. The West African Youth Council also recognized Mr. Ayere as Winner of the ECOWAS Icon of Societal Development and African Man of the Year in 2020.
GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND
Apart from leading revolutionary initiatives at DLM Capital Group, Mr. Ayere also dons a lot of other hats to make sure Africa’s financial sector gets the boost it needs. He was recently made the inaugural CEO of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC). The Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company is set up as a private company charged with the public purpose of developing the primary and secondary mortgage markets in the country. The NMRC aims to raise long-term funds in the domestic capital market and later from foreign markets. The company is supposed to contribute to affordable housing in a country of 170 million people. The initiative was started by the presidency under the patronage of the Co-ordinating Minister of Finance and the Economy; Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with support from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and other private sector partners – commercial and mortgage banks. It is a very ambitious and respectable project that will work to change the face of Nigeria’s housing and finance sector. In 2018, Mr. Ayere was tasked by the Council of Petroleum & Energy Ministers of Africa under the chairmanship of Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, to set up the Africa Energy Investment Corporation (AEICORP). He was also a member of the Inaugural Nigerian Bond Steering Committee set up by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in 2006, he was a part of the SEC Committee on Market structure & reforms, the Steering Committee for the review of the Foreclosure and Securitization Law of Nigeria and the CBN FSS2020 Steering Committee. He is also a member of the Capital Market Master Plan Implementation Committee (CAMMIC) as well as an avid commentator on financial market developments in Nigeria and across the African continent. He clearly has a penchant to go way beyond the norm to promote the society. It is his irrefutable contribution in more ways than one to the African market and the public that makes him an avant-garde leader.