CHICAGO — Chicago-based investment bank William Blair & Co. has hired Mark Morehouse, a specialist in airport-related public private partnerships, in a bet that local governments and agencies will show increasing interest in private deals for airport infrastructure.
Morehouse started at William Blair this month as a managing director, joining the firm’s team of seven in its infrastructure investment banking group. He previously worked at Credit Suisse Securities in Chicago where he was a director and head of coverage for airlines and airports in the Americas. His charge is to bolster the firm’s position as a sell-side advisor on P3s to include aviation. The firm served as advisor on Chicago’s leases involving its parking meters and downtown parking garages.
“Airport infrastructure represents a largely untapped source of capital for public agencies throughout the United States and globally,” said Tom Lanctot, head of the infrastructure banking group. “Mark has a keen understanding of structuring, valuing, and executing infrastructure transactions, and we are excited to have such a talented and well-respected banker join our team.”
At Credit Suisse, Morehouse was on the advisory team selected by Chicago to advise on its proposed lease of Midway Airport. More recently, he was on the group that is advising on the pending long-term concession of San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin International in Puerto Rico under the federal pilot program that currently allows for the privatization of five airports. The federal government has proposed expanding the number of slots.
Chicago’s Midway deal fell apart in 2009 when the private consortium with the high bid could not raise the capital needed to finance the $2.5 billion lease due to the international credit crisis at the time. Though Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel showed little interest in resurrecting the lease deal after he took office last May, the city has left the door open by asking the Federal Aviation Administration to hold on to its pilot program slot until the end of the year. The FAA has granted the request but the city must decide by the end of the year whether it will pursue a deal or relinquish the spot.
“There’s ongoing interest in the investor community” for public-private aviation infrastructure deals that extend beyond an outright airport lease to include parking garages, terminals and other airport facilities,” Morehouse said. “I chose to join William Blair because it’s a strong Chicago-based firm with a global footprint and it’s growing.”
The firm has also recently added sales and trading professionals in its Chicago and New York City offices as part of an ongoing expansion.