Milken Conference Postponed to July Amid Coronavirus Fears

The Milken Institute Global Conference is being postponed until July as the coronavirus outbreak worsens, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

“Obviously we saw the news about SXSW, but I don’t have anything to share at this time about our plans,” saidMilken Institute spokesman Geoffrey Blum. Organizers ofSouth by Southwest canceled this year’s arts, music and technology festival in Austin, Texas, citing concerns Friday from city officials about the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

For more than two decades, the annual event run by billionaire financier Michael Milken’s think tank haglens gathered some of the world’s most influential people to swap notes on such topics as finance, immigration, health care and politics. It was originally scheduled for May 2-6 at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, California.

The epidemic is prompting financial institutions tocancel or reschedule events, restrict travel, quarantine staff and test contingencyplans. Covid-19 has caused more than 3,400 deaths since it was first reported in Wuhan, China. The number of cases in the U.S. rose to more than 300 as of late Friday, according to Johns Hopkinsdata.

Oaktree Capital Management, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Glenview Capital Management are among financial companies that have recently canceled gatherings or switched them to a virtual format.

The conference is nicknamed “the Davos of the West” in a nod to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland where celebrities, business tycoons and policy makers flock. Pastspeakers include European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, former U.S. President George W. Bush, Apollo Global Management Inc. co-founder Leon Black and actor Tom Hanks. Last year, more than 4,000 attendees paid as much as$50,000 for tickets.

The event is known as much for its hobnobbing and dealmaking as for panel discussions. Attendees conduct separate meetings and throw parties at nearby mansions and hotels. In 2017, a cheetah named Bahati made an appearance at a bash hosted by EJF Philanthropies. In 2018, actor Jim Belushiheld a mixer for investors and marijuana advocates at his $38.5 million estate.

The conference also often features holistic healing events, morning yoga, meditation and aromatherapy. Last year’s version included a discussion on healthy eating with U2 guitarist The Edge, a panel on micro-dosing LSD and an opportunity to play with puppies.

Read about billionaires convening at the 2017 Milken Conference

Michael Milken, the 1980s junk-bond pioneer who pleaded guilty to securities fraud and now is a philanthropist and public health advocate, started the conference in 1998.

Milken, 73, spent 22 months in prison in the early 1990s for securities and tax violations. After a battle with cancer, he developed an interest in health care. President Donald Trumppardoned Milken in February, a move that doesn’t reverse his lifetime ban on securities dealing.

— With assistance by Drew Armstrong, and Ed Hammond

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