Moelis & Co. co-founder to head new blockchain advisory unit

Moelis & Co.’s John Momtazee stated the firm was unfazed launching the group amid a crypto bear market, acknowledging that any new “disruptive” tech comes with volatility.

New York-based investment banking giant Moelis & Co. has launched a Global Blockchain Group that will provide advisory services to blockchain and crypto firms.

The group is being fronted by Moelis & Co. co-founder John Momtazee and supported by a team of senior bankers that have significant experience in advising blockchain companies, according to the firm.

Momtazee, based in Los Angeles, is also the global head of media investment banking at the company and was previously the managing director in the global media group for UBS Investment Bank.

Momtazee noted in a July 25 announcement that Moelis & Co. is unfazed by the strong downturn and volatility of the crypto market this year, as the firm sees “strong long-term prospects” in the application of blockchain tech in the global commercial landscape.

During an interview with Bloomberg on July 25, he suggested that entering blockchain and crypto during a bear market was the perfect time to start advising firms.

“We love the timing. We think that to pile in on good days and say, ‘Here we are, ready to help,’ feels less genuine than when there’s a challenge,” he said, adding that “any disruptive technology is going to have volatility.”

The Group will look to work with “corporations utilizing blockchain as well as emerging and leading blockchain companies, including those seeking to build a presence in Web3.” The group will also coordinate with Moelis & Co.’s global partners to provide clients access to potential opportunities in the crypto/blockchain sector.

Moelis & Co. has also onboarded Lou Kerner as the senior advisor of the Global Blockchain Group. Kerner is the founder of Web3 consulting firm CryptoOracle Collective and a partner at crypto venture fund Blockchain Coinvestors.

Moelis & Co. has already dipped its toes into the sector, with recently bankrupted crypto lending firm Voyager Digital acquiring its advisory services at the start of July following its ill-fated temporary suspension of withdrawals.

The firm was founded in 2007 and has 21 offices across North and South America, Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. According to data from Macro Trends, the firm had a net worth of around $2.97 billion as of July 22, while the company claims to have advised on more than $3.5 trillion worth of transactions to date.

Related: 3AC: A $10B hedge fund gone bust with founders on the run

The investment bank’s other co-founder Ken Moelis also has direct exposure to the space via participation in the $142 million Series C funding round from stablecoin issuer Paxos in December 2020.

Moelis has held relatively positive sentiments towards crypto in the past, and in June last year, he likened the market to the California gold rush of the mid-1800s.

“It’s like the gold rush of 1848. A lot of people didn’t know if there was gold in the ground, but Levi’s made a business selling jeans and Wells Fargo made a banking business,” Moelis said.

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