CPV: A Private Equity Fracking Play

Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), an energy company behind nine planned or operational natural gas power plants across the US and Canada, has faced strident local opposition to several of its east coast projects. Proposed plants in New York and Connecticut have highlighted how CPV uses political influence, including the hiring of well-connected lobbyists and political operators, to override opposition to the projects. In New York, construction of CPV’s Valley natural gas plant continues, though Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered state agencies to suspend all communication and regulatory proceedings with CPV amid a federal law enforcement investigation of the company’s dealings with a top Cuomo aide.

Behind CPV are Wall Street interests – including alumni of Credit Suisse and General Electric – that have invested in the company through a private equity firm called Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). This post highlights the private equity backers seeking profit from CPV’s business. Future posts will explore how CPV has pushed its gas projects forward, even in the face of grassroots protest and carbon reduction goals.

Global Infrastructure Partners is an “independent asset manager” focused specifically on infrastructure projects. GIP has stakes in many natural gas projects, including pipelines, power plants, and a liquefied natural gas terminal, as well as coal, oil, and wind projects and several airports. The firm was founded in 2006 with backing from General Electric and Credit Suisse, though Credit Suisse sold its stake in GIP to the private equity firm Lexington Partners in 2013.

Today, the firm is led by Adebayo Ogunlesi, the former head of global investment banking at Credit Suisse and a current lead director at Goldman Sachs, for which he was paid $600,000 in 2016. Ogunlesi is also a prolific donor to the Democratic party, contributing more than $140,000 to various Democratic campaign committees since 2007 and more than $76,000 to Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns. Further, Ogunlesi bundled between $100,000 and $200,000 in donations for Obama during his first campaign in 2008.

In addition to Ogunlesi, another seven out of the 13 partners at GIP are also Credit Suisse alumni. Four partners came from GE, and the remaining two came from the law firm Latham & Watkins and the collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers respectively, as can be seen in the map embedded at the end of this post

Besides CPV, Global Infrastructure Partners currently owns three other businesses in the oil and gas sector and one coal power business, making fossil fuel companies the greatest percentage of the firm’s portfolio by number of investments. GIP is invested in two oil and gas import and export facilities – Freeport LNG in Texas, which is approved to export liquefied natural gas from the United States to global markets, and East India Petroleum Limited, which imports and stores petroleum products to its facility on the east coast of India. GIP also owns a 50% stake in Hess Corporation’s midstream oil and gas business, including gathering, processing, and storage infrastructure located mostly in the Bakken shale region in North Dakota.

All of GIP’s investments can be seen in the map below.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the CPV Valley plant in downstate New York was “on hold.” The plant is still under construction, though Governor Andrew Cuomo has instructed the state Public Service Commission and Department of Environmental Conservation to “immediately suspend or discontinue all communications with CPV or CPV Valley, activities in support of any regulatory approvals for CPV or CPV Valley, any ongoing regulatory proceedings related to CPV or CPV Valley, or any other discussions of projects, proposals, lobbying, transactions, or other matters concerning New York State, its Executive Agencies or Authorities that pertain to CPV or CPV Valley.” The post has been corrected to reflect this.