Thursday. I came to Beverly Hills to hear Sir Jimmy
Goldsmith speak at Mike Milken's "High Yield Bond
Conference." His presentation this morning was
part of a 5 day annual event sponsored by Drexel that
has attracted such illustrious raiders as T. Boone Pickens,
Rupert Murdoch, Carl Icahn, Marvin Davis, Ron Perlman,
Steve Wynn, Saul Steinberg, John Kluge, Irwin L. Jacobs,
Carl Lindner, Oscar S. Wyatt Jr, Jay Pritzker, Asher
Edelman, Samuel Belzberg, David Murdoch and Kirk Kerkorian.
It began on Monday with Milken explaining to rapt raptors
why Dun & Bradstreet, Moody's and other traditional
bond rating services are out of touch with reality and
ends tomorrow night with Diana Ross serenading them
in the grand ballroom of the Century Hotel.
Jimmy had little problem winning
over this audience. "Why are takeovers considered
hostile?" he asks rhetorically in his eloquent
English accent. "It is because of a basic misunderstanding
between owners and those they hire to manage their enterprises.
Because no one has challenged their tenure, many managers
have mistakenly come to believe that they own the businesses.
As a consequence, they consider it "hostile"
for the real owners to assert their rights. The true
owners are the share holders." When he tells them
they must recognize they are part of an "anti-establishment,"
and tormenting a "revolution that will change corporate
America", they give him a standing ovation.
I spent the afternoon at the swimming
pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel, owned by the wife of
Ivan Boesky. It was a warm balmy day which made some
of the pool-side financiers, like Carl Icahn, still
in their 3 piece suits, look out of place. I received
an insight into its subliminal function through a chance
encounter with an actress-director Arielle Dombasle,
who was seated next to me at the pool. She had come
to this conference to raise financing for her next project,
"The Blue Pyramid," and met Don Engel, an
aide to Milken. She told me Engel had generously distributed
passes to the pool to dozens of starlets from Twentieth
Century Fox (now owned by Murdoch) and various talent
agencies, telling them, as a further inducement, that
if they showed up today were " going to meet the
richest men in the world."
This gathering of starlets became
more evident that evening at the cocktail party hosted
by Boesky in Bungalow 8, a pink two-bedroom cottage
a few hundred yards from the pool. I counted at least
20 of them huddled together, like pigeons waiting to
be released for trap shooting. Gradually, the predators,
all in dark suits, threaded their way through the room.
Their discussions of their use of poison pills, golden
handcuffs and stripped equities left a few of the starlets
confused, if not agog.
Around 7pm, a fleet of limousines
whisked the guests, including Jimmy, off to the private
dining room at Chasen's. I was not invited.
I met Jimmy at a piano bar after
dinner. He said that Don Engel had tried to seat him
and Jay Pritzker with two "X-ray blonds,"
but not about to be compromised, he demanded and got
a safer placement next to his lawyer, Joe Flom. Engel
then announced that there would be a "special party"
back at Bungalow 8, at which point Jimmy ducked out.
"Those guys have no idea of how to run a revolution."