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Lowell Milken's Role at Drexel Varied, Vague

September 08, 1988|SCOT J. PALTROW | Times Staff Writer

Lowell J. Milken, 39, is the younger brother of Michael Milken, the creator and head of Drexel Burnham Lambert's hugely profitable "junk bond" operation. Lowell, a lawyer by training, was brought into the firm by his brother in 1978, shortly after Michael had moved Drexel's junk bond operation from New York to Los Angeles.

Lowell, a senior vice president at Drexel, was included in the defendants named in a civil insider trading suit filed Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. His brother Michael and Drexel were also named in the suit.

Lowell is said to be his brother's closest confidant and adviser at the firm, although his official duties aren't clearly defined, according to Drexel officials and others. Lowell is said to devote much of his time to overseeing the Milken family holdings, as well as partnerships Michael Milken set up to benefit himself and certain Drexel employees.

Lowell has handled some of the administrative duties in the junk bond department for his brother. He also analyzes the risk of potential deals and does financial analysis of companies for which Drexel is considering underwriting an issue of junk bonds.

Lowell, Michael and other investors jointly bought a four-story building in 1983 at Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive, and leased it to Drexel for its Beverly Hills headquarters.

In interviews, Drexel officials seemed to have difficulty describing Lowell's precise duties. One senior Drexel official said "he's done a lot of administrative things," and "noodles over credit issues on deals," but the official couldn't provide specific details. The official said Lowell also "follows a lot of the (Milken) family stuff."

Lowell switched to junk bond banking after a promising start as a lawyer. He was an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley and then was a Law Review editor at UCLA law school. He graduated in the top 10% of his law school class, according to a law school official.

After law school, Lowell spent four years as an associate in the Los Angeles law firm Irell & Manella. Edmund M. Kaufman, a senior partner at the firm, said "I found him to be an outstanding lawyer."

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