Advisory work in the Middle East has shifted away from big-ticket international M&A buy-outs towards helping governments implement their longer-term plans and financing strategies and helping regional corporates restructure their business models and liabilities in an era of lower growth and (perhaps) higher interest rates.
Having set up a Dubai office in 2010, now under Rami Touma, Moelis & Co has emerged as preeminent in this new model of regional advisory. It is the region’s best advisory house in 2018.
It hit the headlines early in 2017 after clinching a role advising Saudi Aramco on its IPO, a mandate of global not just regional prestige. Less well known is the success the firm has already achieved for a very similar firm, Adnoc, in the next step of the Abu Dhabi oil company’s 2030 strategy, including monetization of parts of its mid- and downstream assets last year.
Moelis led a strategic review last year across Adnoc’s various parts, from its concession partnerships, pipeline and storage assets, down to its refining, petrochemical and retail businesses. This went beyond offering the firm insights and structuring expertise in perhaps the best-known element of the string of deals the new strategy produced last year – the IPO of Adnoc Distribution. Moelis was also financial adviser to Adnoc, for example, in its inaugural bond offering, the $3 billion issue by Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline LLC, an Adnoc subsidiary.
Meanwhile, Moelis was also financial adviser to Arabtec on its recapitalization, including a reverse stock split and a Dh1.5 billion rights issue. Moelis worked with the company – the contractor behind the Louvre and the Abu Dhabi world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa – to determine its liquidity needs after two consecutive years of losses and the halving of its market capitalization. Abu Dhabi state-owned fund Aabar, its largest shareholder, underwrote the rights issue. The firm posted a $26 million profit in 2017.
Moelis’ earlier work in the restructuring of Dubai World continued in 2017. It advised lenders to Drydocks World on that firm’s $2.1 billion restructuring and its subsequent sale to DP World.