Moelis turns to Japanese

David Hellier
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MOELIS, the boutique investment bank, has agreed a $93m (£60.4m) cash injection from Sumitomo Mitsui, the Japanese bank, in a deal that will give it extra firepower in the far east.

According to industry sources, the investment will give Sumitomo a stake of around five per cent in Moelis, valuing the group at more than $1.8bn. On this basis, Moelis would be valued higher than rivals Greenhill and Evercore, which is merging with Lexicon.

The deal comes on the heels of an agreement the firms signed in March, in which they agreed to work together non-exclusively on transactions involving Japanese companies.

Moelis played down suggestions the deal might be a precursor to going public. The firm, founded by the former UBS man Ken Moelis in 2007, has 580 employees in 11 offices.

Last year Moelis was involved on deals including advising SAB Miller on its acquisition of Foster’s, the restructuring of Dubai World, and the restructuring of Glitner, the Icelandic bank. It is currently advising the London Metal Exchange.

Moelis has been making a global push in recent years, especially in Asia. Last year, the bank acquired Asia Pacific Advisers, a firm based in Hong Kong, and started a global advisory board.

In November, it announced it had opened a Beijing office, adding to its outposts in Hong Kong, Dubai and Sydney, Australia. The Japanese money is not contributing to taking Moelis into the provision of underwriting but is specifically aimed at helping it grow its advisory business.

Some suggested that the sum being paid by Sumitomo Mitsui was quite “chunky” while others felt it was sensible for the Japanese to consolidate already strong links with their banking partner.