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‘Predators Ball’ Opens With a Message for Michael

From Associated Press

The “Predators Ball” began today in Beverly Hills with a reserved tip of the hat to absent Michael Milken, founder of the junk bond market it celebrates.

Milken, top junk bond trader for Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., can’t be at the annual event the company calls the Institutional Research Conference, which attracts a who’s who of corporate takeover artists.

Milken was charged last week with 98 counts of securities fraud and racketeering in connection with alleged trading violations and is officially on leave from his job as Drexel’s junk bond guru.

Milken’s successor, John H. Kissick, opened the 3 1/2-day conference with a reserved tribute to Milken and a promise that his company will continue to forge ahead.

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“After more than two years, the government has finally brought charges against Michael Milken and others,” Kissick told a standing-room-only audience. “Now that they have an opportunity to exercise their right to due process, they have our honest wishes for success.”

Kissick sought to reassure investors that Drexel would continue to battle for the preeminent spot in the high-yield bond market despite the loss of the man credited with creating it.

“Drexel remains committed to maintaining the high quality of this market as we move ahead,” Kissick said.

Kissick’s talk to the Beverly Hilton Hotel conference was followed by a pep talk on education from Jaime Escalante, the high school math teacher whose success with underprivileged students was the basis of the movie “Stand and Deliver.”

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