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For the week of July 12 through July 18, 2000

Power elite descend on Sun Valley

Annual Allen conference set to open

"It is here. It’s a big boost to the local economy. It’s great for Sun Valley and the whole area, but I can’t tell you any more than that."

Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley Co. spokesman

Express Staff Writer

Investments banker and media mogul Herbert Allen Jr.’s famed media conference is invading Sun Valley this week for the 18th year, although details are mysteriously—well, not really—difficult to find.

Last year was the first time Allen opened the event up to the press with limitations—but apparently he’s decided it wasn’t a good idea.

Sun Valley Co. spokesman Jack Sibbach said in a Tuesday conversation that Allen seems to be maintaining a lower profile for the event this year. Sibbach wouldn’t even disclose the dates the conference begins and ends, though it is probably running from yesterday through Sunday, based on previous years’ schedules.

"It is here. It’s a big boost to the local economy. It’s great for Sun Valley and the whole area, but I can’t tell you anymore than that," he said.

Sibbach said he was asked not to disclose any details.

Also, an employee at the conference’s caterer, Cristina’s Restaurant, also said they had been asked not to disclose any details about the conference.

A Mountain Express reporter observed private jets arriving practically by the minute late Tuesday afternoon at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey.

A baggage handler for the incoming flights said he wasn’t interested in talking to a reporter. He said he was warned by convention organizers, "don’t jeopardize our position, don’t jeopardize yours."

Last summer, a slew of news organizations invaded Sun Valley to try to get an unguarded moment with some of the heavy-hitting guests. The press contingent included CNN, CNBC, The New Yorker, Bloomberg News, The New York Post, USA Today and Great Britian’s The Guardian, to name a few.

Oprah Winfrey, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Michael Ovitz were among the financial and media power players sought by the media.

Allen had issued a letter last year, listing guidelines for the press that limited photographs and interviews. The press was able to talk only to those who volunteered interviews.

"Our conference in Sun Valley has always been a family event where our guests have been able to enjoy their privacy as they would on a vacation," the letter stated.

Allen is president of Allen & Co., which is one of the major investment houses on Wall Street.

Originated in 1922, Allen & Co.’s initial successes came through buying and selling of stocks at depression era prices. Since then, it has focused on venture capital transactions.


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