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Opinion

Sideways: Ken Moelis – Ken of Arabia sticks to one costume

Ken Moelis lived up to his nickname ‘Ken of Arabia’ when he showed up at the Saudi Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh in late October in his brave pursuit of future fee income despite the risk of international opprobrium.

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At least the founder and chief executive of investment bank Moelis & Co resisted the temptation to wear traditional Middle Eastern clothes as a sign of his commitment to the regime and its ability to dispense enormous fees in the event that an IPO of Saudi Aramco ever takes place.

Ken is a dark suit and tasselled loafers kind of guy and is rarely photographed out of this costume.

The same cannot be said for some other investment bankers who are becoming fetishistic about trying to convince clients that they are kindred spirits, rather than simply highly paid advisers whose public imprimatur will help to ensure that a transaction goes smoothly. 

Michael Grimes, head of technology investment banking at Morgan Stanley, is an extreme example of this trend. He was recently reported to have moonlighted as an Uber driver as part of his bid to ensure that Morgan Stanley wins a lead role on an IPO of the firm. 

An IPO of Uber could value the firm at well over $100 billion – if the US equity market can avoid an implosion before a potential deal date of early 2019.




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