By Avik Das
April 16 (Reuters) - Shares of Moelis & Co rose as much as 9 percent in their debut, after the boutique investment bank cut the size of its offering and priced it below its targeted range.
The company raised about $163 million after its offering was priced at $25, below the expected price range of $26-$29 per share.
Moelis, founded and led by veteran Wall Street investment banker Ken Moelis, offered 6.5 million shares of Class A common stock, lower than the 7.3 million it had initially planned.
The company's shares opened at $27 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday and touched a high of $27.22 in early trading before giving up some gains.
The recent pullback in U.S. stocks has hurt the IPO market, which got off to a strong start in the first quarter of the year.
The S&P 500 index has fallen 3 percent since touching a life-high of 1,897.28 on April 4 - the same day that Moelis announced its expected pricing range.
A number of recent high-profile trading debuts such as those of Ally Financial Inc and King Digital Entertainment Plc failed to click with investors, who have been picky in a crowded IPO market.
In contrast, IPOs of smaller technology firms, mostly cloud-based service providers, and biotechnology companies have fared better.
At least 84 companies have raised about $18 billion so far this year in the U.S. IPO market, the highest since 2008.
KEN MOELIS KEEPS CONTROL
Ken Moelis will retain control of the company by holding all of the class B shares, which have more voting rights than the shares offered in the IPO. (http://r.reuters.com/dyz37v)
Moelis founded the company in 2007 after leaving UBS AG , where he was president of UBS Investment Bank and previously joint global head of investment banking.
Moelis, 55, started his career in 1981 at junk-bond pioneer Drexel Burnham Lambert after graduating with an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.
The New York-based company, which says it has advised on deals valued at more than $1 trillion, has about 300 advisers in 15 offices across the world.
The company advised H.J. Heinz Co in its $23 billion takeover by Warren Buffett and Brazilian private-equity firm 3G Capital. It also advised Omnicom in its $35 billion merger with Publicis SA.
Moelis was also an underwriter for its own offering, which was led by Goldman Sachs & Co and Morgan Stanley.
Moelis' IPO comes at a time when the M&A market is starting to perk up but shares of other boutique investment banks have been under pressure.
Shares of Greenhill & Co Inc have fallen about 9.3 percent this year to Tuesday's close, while those of Evercore Partners Inc are down 10.3 percent.
Moelis's net income almost doubled to about $70 million in 2013, while revenue rose about 7 percent to about $411 million.
IPOs of Chinese social media company Weibo Corp and Sabre Corp, the owner of Travelocity website, will be priced later on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Avik Das in Bangalore; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)