Bank, Ex-Executive Share Big-Ticket Deal

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The agreement for Hilton to be acquired by Blackstone Group - at over $20 billion, the largest hotel deal ever - was announced late Tuesday. Hilton's advisors are UBS and Moelis & Co., founded earlier this year and officially in business only since Monday.

Ken Moelis's role in the Hilton deal points up the value of maintaining good relations with past employers - even if your departure wasn't entirely smooth. That principle is no less valid for a second-year associate than for a senior managing director.

Moelis was a top investment banking executive at UBS from 2001 until March, when he left to start his own M&A boutique, taking a number of colleagues with him. (His contract with UBS officially ended June 30.) At the time, media reports said Moelis had clashed with UBS management about its willingness to commit capital to the fast-growing leveraged buyout business. UBS's climb in the M&A league tables stems largely from its ties to corporate acquirers. It's said to have lagged in private equity and other LBOs, whose advisors often extend credit to the buyers.

In both size and timing, the Hilton deal is a coup for Moelis' new firm. Investment banks often steer business to hedge funds founded by ex-employees. But it's less common for a bank and a high-profile defector to cooperate in advising deals. Perella Weinberg, another star-studded boutique bank launched with great fanfare in June 2006 by former Morgan Stanley vice chairman Joseph Perella, struggled to win big advisory mandates during its first several months in business.

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