Moelis Seeks Tech Bankers, Says ‘We’ve Got to Get on That’

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  • Activity is growing rapidly in health care, vice chairman says
  • Leaman sees adding five managing directors, mostly in U.S.

Moelis & Co., the investment bank founded by Wall Street veteran Ken Moelis, is seeking dealmakers in technology after adding staff in Houston for energy mergers, acquisitions and restructuring.

“We’re underrepresented in tech, whether that’s fin-tech or software, and we’ve got to get on that,” Vice Chairman Rick Leaman said Tuesday at a conference held by JMP Securities. New York-based Moelis may also “take on more bodies in health care,” he said. “The activity there is growing rapidly, and I think it will continue to be active.”

Moelis and Greenhill & Co. are among boutiques seeking to win market share from giant banks in the U.S. and Europe that are scaling back while facing tighter capital rules and costs tied to regulatory probes. Greenhill Chief Executive Officer Scott Bok said at the same conference that he added four managing directors already this year and expects to accelerate the pace of hiring in 2017. The companies are seeking to reverse a share slide, with Moelis down about 10 percent since Dec. 31 and Greenhill losing 22 percent.

“We want to grow, and part of that growth will be internal productivity, which I’m convinced we can do. And part of that growth will be external,” Leaman said, adding that he expects Moelis to add five managing directors next year. “I would think the majority of that will be in the U.S. The U.S. is the best business right now. It’s the most profitable. If we’re going to grow shareholder value we’ve got to focus on that.”

Taubman’s View

PJT Partners Inc. CEO Paul J. Taubman, whose bank was spun off from Blackstone Group LP last year, also said independent firms have gained an edge in recruiting.

“It’s very clear that there’s a lot of discontent at bigger firms,” Taubman, a former executive at Morgan Stanley, said at the JMP conference. “Increasingly, clients are looking to smaller firms.”

PJT shares have slipped 8.1 percent since Dec. 31, as of 12:54 p.m. in New York trading.

— With assistance by Sonali Basak

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