Independent investment bank Moelis & Company has acquired Asia Pacific Advisers (APA), a financial advisory firm founded by former ABN AMRO/Royal Bank of Scotland banker Richard Orders. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Moelis provides financial advisory, capital raising and asset management services to clients, which include corporations, institutions and governments. It has around 470 employees across offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dubai, London, and Sydney. Moelis is 90% owned by its partners.
Ken Moelis started Moelis in 2007 and since then the New York-headquartered firm has worked with clients such as Anheuser-Busch, Yahoo!, the Government of Dubai and others. It has also worked on cross-border transactions involving companies in Asia. It advised Pacific Century Motors, an entity backed by Beijing’s municipal government, on its acquisition of Nexteer Automotive from General Motors; and Norway's Orkla on its sale of Elkem to China National Bluestar Group. Former Standard Chartered chairman Mervyn Davies is a special adviser to Ken Moelis and is chairman of the global advisory board at Moelis.
Until now, Moelis has not had a physical presence in Asia, but it had been thinking about how to build an Asian franchise when the opportunity to partner with APA presented itself. The deal is an opportunity for Moelis to expand into Asia with a full-fledged office.
Richard Orders founded APA in March 2009 and has been chief executive officer since then. He was earlier a managing director with Royal Bank of Scotland/ABN AMRO. He has also worked with Barings and has three decades of corporate finance experience, of which the last two are in Asia-Pacific. Soon after Orders founded APA he brought on board Bert Grisel, who had worked with him at ABN AMRO.
APA’s capabilities include a comprehensive range of advisory services, spanning mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and restructuring. APA has on its payroll seven professionals who operate out of an office at Hong Kong's Pacific Place.
“[Orders] describes his business the same way Ken Moelis describes his,” said Mark Aedy, head of investment banking for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Moelis, explaining how the cultural fit between the two firms was a key driver for the acquisition. “The deal enables both firms to expand their offering.”
The deal is structured as an acquisition but is more of a marriage, explained Aedy. Orders and Grisel will be compensated for their ownership of APA by way of an equity interest in Moelis, on similar terms as the existing partners of Moelis.
“The philosophical and cultural empathy, which is the bedrock of a corporate finance advisory practice, was the same at both firms,” said Orders, explaining the rationale for the deal.
Initially Moelis does not anticipate transferring people to Hong Kong, but Aedy expects that over time the business will grow through a combination of new hires and transfers.
The deal is subject to approval by the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong. It is expected to close in April this year.