Ken  Costa

Ken Costa

Chairman for International Business, Lazard UK

Place of Birth: South Africa

The courtship by Sunil Mittal's Bharti Airtel of Cyril Ramaphosa's MTN hit the rocks in May 2008. Enter the next ardent suitor: Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications. A marriage between Reliance, India's second largest mobile operator, and MTN, Africa's largest, would create a company that reaches across South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Reliance has asked Ken Costa of Lazard International to serve as matchmaker.

Born in South Africa, Costa attended the University of the Witwatersrand, where he studied law and philosophy. After postgraduate work at Cambridge University, Costa remained in Britain, joining SG Warburg, the investment bank that was later swallowed by UBS. While there, he arranged some high-profile marriages, overseeing Anglo American's takeover of the DeBeers diamond company and Standard Chartered's acquisition of Korea First Bank.

His long career at UBS came to an end in 2007, when Lazard hired him to rebuild its flagging presence in Europe. A successful MTN-Reliance hitch-up would win Lazard plenty of prestige in Africa and India, two markets where the investment bank is less well known.

A former anti-apartheid activist, Costa has also become a bestselling author and guru. In 'God at Work', the devout Christian explains how to reconcile faith with the workplace. He is also chairman of Alpha International, an evangelical organization, and a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.