Boutique investment bank Moelis plans expansion to tap into M&A boom
Manisha Girotra | Photo Credit: Reuters

Boutique investment bank Moelis & Co plans to expand in India where it believes economic growth and corporate restructuring will prolong a boom in dealmaking, the head of its local business said on Monday.

Manisha Girotra, who previously headed the Indian unit of Swiss bank UBS and is well known in the industry, said she expects deals in sectors such as financials, telecoms and pharmaceuticals to continue driving M&A activity in the South Asian nation.

Mergers and acquisitions involving Indian companies hit a record $72.4 billion last year, led by transactions in the energy and power sectors, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Moelis has been an adviser on deals involving infrastructure companies Jaiprakash Associates and GMR Infrastructure, and pharmaceutical companies such as Strides Shasun and Intas Pharmaceuticals.

"We have a few mandates at this point on the new age tech business," Girotra said in an interview at her office in central Mumbai.

"Telecom towers and financial services should see more activity in the next 12 months," she said, referring to the sale of assets or stakes in mobile mast companies.

Moelis, which set up shop in India in 2012, currently has a team of 14 bankers. Girotra said she would like to take that number to as many as 20 in a year or so, cautioning though that growing revenue takes priority over boosting headcount.

The relatively low investment banking fee pool in India has frustrated bankers, especially multinationals some of whom have scaled back their local operations.

In financial services, Girotra said she sees consolidation in private sector banking and within the insurance sector, which has already seen a raft of deals after India relaxed foreign ownership rules.

Vodafone's Indian unit and Idea Cellular are looking to sell mobile tower assets and their stakes in a joint venture as part of an agreed deal to combine their phone service operations to create the top telecom company in India.

The boutique bank founded by veteran U.S. dealmaker Ken Moelis in 2007 surprised many as it won an adviser role from Saudi Aramco [IPO-ARMO.SE] on its plans for what is expected to be the world's biggest initial public share offer.

"We would love to do it, but selectively," Girotra said, when asked if Moelis would enter into IPO advisory in India.

"The IPO market is very crowded in India," she said. "I see more of the growth coming in M&A and restructuring."

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