Moelis Hires JPM’s Top EMEA Chemical Banker to Seek Deals

Moelis & Co. has hired Jan-Philipp Pfander, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s top chemical banker for Europe, the Middle East and Africa in advance of an expected acceleration in dealmaking in the industry.

The executive, a former banker at Lehman Brothers and McKinsey & Co., will remain in London, Moelis said in a statement Thursday.

“The chemicals industry is experiencing a pick-up in M&A activity as companies are increasing their exposure to differentiated technologies and growth markets while exiting underperforming assets,” Kasim Kutay, co-head of Europe at New York-based Moelis, said in the statement.

As major financial institutions focus on their top clients, smaller investment banks such as Moelis are gearing up to take a greater share of the advising mandates offered by medium-sized companies. Moelis will be looking to add to a list of chemical-maker mergers and acquisitions that already includes advising Tronox Ltd. in its planned purchase of FMC Corp.’s alkali division for about $1.6 billion.

Last month, Evercore Partners Inc., the merger-advisory firm founded by Roger Altman, hired former Citigroup Inc. dealmakers E. Thomas Massey and Marc van der Lubbe to expand a European team that advises chemical companies. Both will be based in London. Its work has included Koch Industries Inc.’s takeover of PetroLogistics LP last year for about $2 billion, and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s $9.22 billion purchase of Lubrizol Corp. in 2011.

Reorganization Advice

Moelis’s projects have also involved advising Momentive Performance Materials Inc. on its $4.2 billion Chapter 11 reorganization and helping A. Schulman Inc. buy assets from Ferro Corp.

“There’s clearly more to come from an M&A perspective,” Pamela Schlosser, head of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s chemical deals team for the U.S., said in a phone interview. Specialty-chemical producers will help drive M&A volume this year, along with food ingredients and nutrition, and agrochemicals including crop-protection products, she said.

That said, the oil-price crash has led some companies to adopt a wait-and-see stance toward acquisitions, Schlosser said. “There’s pluses and minuses on both sides depending on where you sit in the chemical sector and the value change, but we think that’s what causing a slight bit of hesitation right now,” along with the dollar’s gain, said Schlosser.

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