Moelis & Co has been chosen as the sole independent adviser for the planned initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, according to three people familiar with the process, scoring the New York boutique investment bank the biggest equity advisory mandate to date.  Winning the hotly contested mandate represents a coup for the independent firm, which was founded by veteran dealmaker Ken Moelis in the midst of the financial crisis in 2007. Other banks are still in the race to underwrite the offering.

Saudi officials hope to turn the state-owned oil group into the world’s most valuable publicly traded company, which they believe could carry a valuation of about $2tn.  Those close to the IPO planning have said the sale of a 5 per cent stake — potentially worth about $100bn — should happen next year, although the number of shares sold could increase, and the timing could slip.  The IPO proposal is the centrepiece of an ambitious strategy by the hard-charging deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to overhaul the country’s economy, using a broad-based privatisation programme to boost employment and diversify the kingdom away from oil.