January 27, 2011 / 2:48 AM / in 7 years

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Dealmaker Moelis tests Asia talent war with launch

(Corrects name of APA founder in third paragraph to Orders, not Waters)

* Moelis & Co enters Asia via Asia Pacific Advisors buy

* Asia-Pacific represents major share of global M&A market

(Adds details, background)

By Michael Flaherty

HONG KONG, Jan 27 (Reuters) - The independent investment bank founded by veteran dealmaker Ken Moelis has announced its launch in Asia on Thursday, a move likely to heat up the already intense war for banking talent in the region.

The Asia expansion by Moelis comes as many top investment bankers in the fast growing region are grumbling over flat to lower annual bonuses after tougher regulation on large publicly traded U.S. and European investment banks.

Moelis & Co said it acquired Hong Kong-based advisory firm Asia Pacific Advisers, purchasing its foothold in Asia rather than expanding on its own. APA was founded by veteran ABN-Amro banker Richard Orders. The price of the deal was not disclosed.

The Asia-Pacific share of the M&A market has grown from single digits about five years ago, to nearly a third of the global total, according to Thomson Reuters, led by China’s ambition to expand its corporate reach overseas.

Moelis, formerly a top M&A banker at UBS AG and an alumnus of well known Wall Street deal shop Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, said the purchase would complement the firm’s growing business in the region. The New York-based investment company has an office in Sydney, Australia.

Moelis’ reputation as a dealmaker will undoubtedly challenge M&A groups at investment banks in the region, and not just for mandates but for talented bankers as well.

The deal, subject to approval by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, was expected to close in April, Moelis said.

Since its founding in 2007, Moelis & Company has advised clients on deals including Anheuser-Busch and InBev , Yahoo! Inc on its unsolicited proposal from Microsoft Corp and the government of Dubai on the restructuring of Dubai World.

Moelis has more than 470 employees, with offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dubai, London and Los Angeles. (Additional reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Chris Lewis) (michael.flaherty@reuters.com; +852 2843 6540))

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