Late this spring, senior managers at Moelis & Co. gathered for a routine conference call to discuss the firm’s deal pipeline and its business outlook. Bankers from offices in various time zones chimed in with ideas and updates about their transactions.

Then, from his office in New York, Ken Moelis, the firm’s founder and chief executive, brought up some reading material not found in any pitch books: a business book recounting Goldman Sachs’ role in taking Ford Motor Co. public in the 1950s. The story of Sidney Weinberg, the senior Goldman banker who worked for years to build a rapport between Ford and Goldman, clearly resonated with Moelis.

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