Moelis to Open Brazil Office as IPO Looms

Moelis & Co., the investment bank planning an initial public offering, said it will open a Sao Paulo office and expand into Brazil.

Moelis, founded by former UBS AG banker Kenneth Moelis, 55, named Otavio Guazzelli and Jorio Salgado-Gama, 38, as co-heads of investment banking for the country, according to a statement today. Guazzelli, 44, previously led investment banking for BR Partners and Citigroup Inc. in Brazil, the New York-based merger adviser said.

Moelis is expanding as it prepares to sell stock to the public, a move that will let the firm’s partners take advantage of a rebound in dealmaking. Moelis ranked 11th among merger advisers in the U.S. in 2013, its highest ever position, after advising clients including HJ Heinz Co. on $134 billion in transactions last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Moelis said it also hired Erick Alberti, 33, who was a partner at BR Partners and a vice president at New York-based Citigroup in Brazil. BR Partners was created in 2009 by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executives in Brazil to advise on mergers and acquisitions. In 2012 it obtained a bank and broker-dealer license.

Today’s appointments prompted criticism from BR Partners Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Lacerda.

Hiring Talks

“Moelis approached BR Partners for a cooperation agreement and took advantage of such discussions to poach our executives,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News. “Their behavior was improper and unethical.”

Moelis “started conversations with these bankers in January after they had all announced their decision to leave their previous employment,” Andrea Hurst, a company spokeswoman, said of the hires in Brazil. She declined to comment on the timing of the stock sale. The firm has offices around the world, including in London, Beijing, Dubai, Frankfurt and Sydney.

“We see significant local and cross-border opportunities over the next few years and in the long-term,” Guazzelli said in the statement on the push into Brazil.

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