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Michael Milken’s Beverly Hills conference postponed til July amid coronavirus fears

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at the Milken Institute Global Conference in April 2019 in Beverly Hills.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks at the Milken Institute Global Conference in April 2019 in Beverly Hills.
(Getty Images)

Add the Milken Institute Global Conference to the growing list of public events that have been postponed, canceled or gone online in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The large investment conference put on by Los Angeles billionaire Michael Milken’s nonprofit institute was to take place May 2-6 at the Beverly Hilton but has been rescheduled for July 7-10, according to an announcement from the Milken Institute. The venue has not been set, though it will be in the Los Angeles area and could still be held at the Beverly Hilton.

“Even though attendee registration and commitments from major speakers were outpacing previous years, we felt it was important to make this decision now to help our key constituents plan accordingly,” said Michael Klowden, chief executive of the Milken Institute, in an emailed statement.

The massive South by Southwest arts, music and technology festival in Austin, Texas, was canceled Friday, among a growing number of events disrupted in the U.S., while in Europe, more than 250 conferences, trade shows and other events had been canceled as of Thursday. In addition, colleges including Stanford University and the University of Washington have moved classed online, and USC is offering some lectures and seminars online as a test next week.

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The Milken Institute conference is often dubbed “the Davos of the West,” after the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, and draws several thousand business leaders, investors, political leaders and others to listen to the latest investment tips and economic analysis — but it also has sessions focusing on health, the environment and other topics not directly related to business.

This year’s Milken conference, which is on its 23rd year, would be the first since Milken, 73, was pardoned last month by President Trump for six felony securities and tax violations he pleaded guilty to in 1990. The financier pioneered the issuance of high-yield bonds for companies that didn’t have access to capital through traditional Wall Street channels, which earned him the title “junk bond king.”

Milken served 22 months in jail and paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, restitution and lawsuit settlements. He also was banned for life from the securities industries, which the pardon did not reverse.

Milken, who survived a prostate cancer diagnosis shortly after he was released from prison, has become a leading philanthropist, helping raise more than $700 million for prostate research and other life-threatening diseases. He also founded the Milken Institute, a think tank that promotes capitalist solutions to global challenges. Milken had long campaigned for a pardon, and his philanthropic endeavors and commitment to global health were cited by his supporters as evidence he deserved one.

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The institute’s last conference was held February in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, before the virus had spread throughout the U.S. It also held a California Policy Summit on Jan. 23 in Sacramento.

Last year’s Beverly Hills conference drew more than 4,000 participants, including speakers Mick Mulvaney, recently replaced as Trump’s chief of staff; Christine Lagarde, then chairwoman of the International Monetary Fund; and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio. Among its key topics was the growth of inequality, the threat it poses to the capitalist system and how to resolve the crisis.


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