“Ken of Arabia” Lands Moelis and Co. as Lead Advisor for Saudi Aramco IPO

Saudi Aramco has chosen New York-based boutique investment bank Moelis & Co as an adviser on its plans for what is expected to be the world’s biggest initial public share offer, Reuters reports.

Moelis & Co secured the role of lead independent adviser. The selection is set to move the small newcomer, and its CEO, Ken Moelis, to a new level of prominence on Wall Street. Moelis has worked extensively with casino magnates and notably with Steve Wynn to revitalize the Las Vegas strip, according to the Financial Times.

“The race to become lead adviser to what is expected to be the world’s largest IPO — Saudi officials hope it could value the state-owned company at $2tn — was a tough one. And as a relatively new investment bank, Moelis & Co was not the obvious frontrunner,” writes the Financial Times.

“According to two people with knowledge of the situation, Evercore and Rothschild appeared to be the top contenders for the advisory role, given their experience working on large IPOs of state-controlled assets. However, Moelis ended up winning the race as its founder convinced executives at Saudi Aramco about his boutique firm’s ability to navigate what is likely to be a complex flotation,” the FT reports.

Moelis started the firm in 2007 and took the firm public less than three years ago.

Officials from Aramco and the Saudi government are considering listing the shares on exchanges in London, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and in Canada.

Saudi Arabia expects the sale to value Aramco at around $2 trillion. If the market agrees, selling just 5% would raise $100 billion — four times as much as Alibaba’s IPO in 2014, the largest to date.