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Notes from the Margin: David Milberg on Everything from Finance to the Footlights

Finance Notes

Financier  David Milberg is a multi-talented man who excels at dealing with numbers.  Yet lurking behind his professional success in finance is a history of a man smitten by the performing arts. Since his time as an undergraduate at Princeton, David Milberg has fervently supported original musical theater and has continued to do so with a slew of Broadway investor credits to his name.

David Milberg’s World of Finance

David Milberg started his banking and financial career after graduating from Princeton University in 1986. By the spring of 1987, David officially began his finance career with Bankers Trust Company, working as an analyst in the bank’s loan sales and syndications department.

Note from the Margin: Bankers Trust Company

Bankers Trust was a historic American banking organization. The bank merged with Alex. Brown & Sons in 1997 before being acquired by Deutsche Bank in 1999. Deutsche Bank sold the Trust and Custody division of Bankers Trust to State Street Corporation in 2003. (wiki)

Milberg helped Bankers Trust by marketing loans originated by the bank to finance large leveraged buyouts, including Ralphs Supermarkets, Northwest Airlines, and Kohl’s Department Stores. After promotion to an associate, he departed Bankers Trust Company and headed to business school.

When Academia Calls… Twice

David Milberg began his higher education at Princeton University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in history. And although he had graduated from an ivy league school and had a great job in NYC, the financial capital of the world,  David Milberg quickly decided that was not enough. So Milberg began pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at Columbia University.  Milberg found that he could expand his professional opportunities within the finance industry by seeking and earning an MBA in 1991.

David Milberg worked very hard and achieved notable success throughout his time at Columbia. He stood out from his classmates by earning a spot on the Business School’s Dean’s List all four semesters he attended. Milberg’s status helped him obtain a coveted teaching assistant position in the corporate finance department of Columbia Business School.  

Note from the Margin: Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School is the school of business for Columbia University located at the main campus in Uptown, Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1916, Columbia Business School is one of six Ivy League business schools and is one of the oldest business schools in the world. The Columbia MBA Program (ranked #7 globally by Forbes and Bloomberg) is one of the most competitive globally, with an admission rate of 13.6% (2021). The student body is highly accomplished and diverse. Students in the class that entered in 2019  came from 61 countries and spoke more than 50 languages.

During business school,  David Milberg set out to pursue a career in investment banking in New York City, the world’s financial epicenter.

Banking With Lehman Brothers

David Milberg’s trajectory in the financial world kept a steady-paced movement up the ladder in the summer of 1990.  That summer, David went to work as a summer associate at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., a premier financial services firm in NYC. David’s exceptional performance earned him a permanent position with Lehman Brothers guaranteed to be waiting for him immediately upon graduating from Columbia in 1991. Working for Lehman Brothers, David Milberg climbed through the ranks in less than five years to become a Vice President, his position when he left Lehman Brothers in 1995.

Note from the Margin: Lehman Brothers Holding Inc.

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. was a global financial services firm founded in 1847. Before filing for bankruptcy in 2008, the investment banking behemoth was the fourth-largest in the US (behind Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch). Sporting 25,000 employees worldwide. Lehman Brothers offered investment banking, equity and fixed-income sales and trading (especially U.S. Treasury securities), research, investment management, private equity, and private banking. Lehman was 158 years old when it finally collapsed. 

On September 15, 2008, Lehman’s bankruptcy filing was the largest in US history, and many believe it played a huge role as an instigator of the financial crisis of 2008. 

In 1995, when David Milberg chose to exit the business for new pastures, Lehman Brothers was still gradually ascending to its most incredible heights, well before its demise. 

While at Lehman Brothers, Milberg worked on a great variety of transactions, including private placements, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, rights offerings, and follow-on stock offerings.  He initially focused on Natural Resources companies and later on Media and Communications firms. 

Factoring With His Father

David Milberg left Lehman Brothers in late 1995 at his father’s urging to pursue a new career at his family’s New York City factoring firm, Milberg Factors, Inc. 

Leonard Milberg strongly encouraged his son to join the family factoring business that his father, David Milberg’s grandfather, had founded many decades before. 

Leonard Milberg assured his son that he was grooming him soon to take the reins as president of Milberg Factors. So, with the expert guidance of the man who raised him, David Milberg stepped into a new professional role with Milberg Factors, Inc. 

Note from the Margin: Milberg Factors, Inc.

Milberg Factors, Inc. is one of the largest factoring and commercial finance firms in the US. The firm headquarters are in the heart of midtown Manhattan. It serves clients ranging from small, privately held companies to publicly traded corporations, varying in size from $5 million to over $500 million in sales, including manufacturers, wholesalers, and service providers. In addition, Milberg participates in bank credit facilities and provides collateral management services to bank groups. Milberg provides clients with Factoring Services, Accounts Receivable Financing, Letters of Credit and Import Financing, Equipment Financing, Mortgages, and Acquisition Financing.

Milberg Factors is a private firm. The management team is committed to providing clients with the financial resources and personalized attention they require to grow and prosper — based on an entrepreneurial philosophy and a set of values that have remained constant for more than 80 years of business.

Soon after joining the Milberg Factors team, David Milberg was promoted to President of the firm as his father had promised. While leading the family factoring firm, Milberg oversaw the company’s transition to a more contemporary firm. This modernization effort included establishing a local area network, introducing internet access and e-mail, and developing online client reports. Additionally, he oversaw the enhancement of Milberg Factors, Inc.’s 401K plan.  Milberg also made important decisions about the company’s acquisition of high-profile clients. 

David Milberg served as President of Milberg Factors from 2009 until 2015. The business had grown considerably by the time he stepped down from the post. Today, David Milberg remains an intricate part of the daily workings at Milberg Factors. Milberg is responsible for maintaining banking relationships and overseeing some of the more high-profile customer accounts. He is also a member of the company’s Board of Directors.

However, Milberg Factors is not the only Board of Directors on which David Milberg has the honor to sit. Beyond his daytime financial career, one can find a true artist hiding behind David Milberg’s professional exterior. From a very young age, Milberg found that he had a love for the theater. From even before his time in college, Milberg knew that the theater was an enormous passion of his and one he would want to explore in various ways throughout the rest of his life.

The Theater and David Milberg

For many people who grew up doing school plays, performing in the church choir, or even those few who had the privilege of playing the lead in the local community playhouse musical every summer, the theater was a fun hobby that they would eventually outgrow. It was nothing more than a footnote from their youth. For David Milberg, the theater entrenched itself and became much more than a hobby. Milberg knew early on that the theater would remain a more central theme in his life.

David Milberg joined the Triangle Club at Princeton University in his sophomore year. As a member of the Triangle Club, David got the opportunity to perform in student-written original musical comedies, and he also got the chance to direct a classic musical.  His multi-faceted participation in the Club only deepened his love for the art form.

Note from the Margin: The Princeton Triangle Club

Since 1891, the Princeton Triangle Club has created original musical comedy – written and performed by students, directed and choreographed by professionals – to showcase Princeton’s most extraordinary student talents in one of the University’s best-known and most-loved traditions. Each year, the students put one original show up in the fall at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, followed by a national tour of the show to entertain Princeton alumni all over the country. 

Fun Facts about The Triangle Show: Though it began in 1891, the first female to join the club was Sue Jean Lee in 1970. Notable writers of Triangle Shows include F. Scott Fitzgerald and the man who composed the hit musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Clark Gesner. The most famous Triangle Club member of all time would go on to have a formidable career in Hollywood, starring in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and Harvey. Many remember Jimmy Stewart as one of the great actors from the golden age of Hollywood, and he received his early acting experience performing in The Triangle Show.

After returning to New York City upon graduating from Princeton, David Milberg always found himself somehow attached to the theater in one way or the other. Currently, he serves on several artistic boards, including the Board of Directors of the Prospect Theater Company, a non-profit theater company headquartered in downtown Manhattan, and the Board of Trustees of Princeton’s Triangle Club. 

Prospect Theater Company has sponsored an exceptional and varied collection of young artists in New York City’s off-Broadway theater scene since 1998. Initially established by five of Milberg’s fellow Princeton University graduates (also members of The Triangle Club), the theatrical company has grown into a global network of over 1,000 performers. Prospect Theater Company has produced the NYC/world premieres of more than 30 new musicals.

The Broadway Connection

From the boards of theater companies to a seat in the investor’s circles of a few of Broadway’s recent commercial and artistic triumphs, David Milberg continues to demonstrate the same passion for the theater that he had in college. 

Yes, David Milberg has invested in a handful of Broadway productions over the last several years, including the record-breaking smash hit musical, The Producers. Mel Brooks’s wildly hilarious hit musical comedy debuted on April 19, 2001, at the St. James Theatre in Manhattan’s Theater District.  Mel Brooks composed the music and lyrics for the musical. It was derived from Brooks’ 1967 film of the same name. Brooks and Thomas Meehan wrote the book. It played for 33 previews and 2,502 performances, featured Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and was nominated for a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Milberg has since been a member of many additional production teams, including the Diana Paulus-directed revival of Pippin.

Note from the Margin: Pippin

Synopsis: As told by a traveling troupe of actors led by the cunning and charming Leading Player, Pippin is the story of a young prince, heir to the throne, who is searching for his own “corner of the sky.” Pippin returns from university, confident that he will find a fulfilling purpose in life. As encouraged by the Leading Player, Pippin dabbles in a bloody battle, licentious and lusty sexual entanglements, and savvy political maneuvers, only to discover that true happiness is more complicated than he thought. Pippin is a humorous allegory about growing up and a dark tale of the danger of false appearances and empty promises.

David Milberg invested in the 2013 Broadway revival directed by Diane Paulus and choreographed by Chet Walker. The revival starred Patina Miller, Terrence Mann, Andrea Martin, Matthew James Thomas, Rachel Bay Jones, Erik Altemus, Charlotte d’Amboise, Andrew Cekala, and others. 

Pippin, written by Stephen Schwartz and Roger O. Hirson, returned to Broadway for 709 performances between April 25, 2013, and January 4, 2015. It then toured the USA. The Pippin revival was awarded a host of Tony Awards when it opened, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, and both Best Actress (Patina Miller) and Best Supporting Actress (Andrea Martin) in a Musical.

David Milberg is a regular participant in the professional theater in NYC in many different ways. Milberg has successfully found a way to do it all by crunching numbers for his commercial finance firm by day and watching his invested money come to life on a Broadway stage at night. 

David Milberg honored his family’s professional tradition by spending years helming the family business and contributing to its continued success. Simultaneously, he nurtured a deep-rooted interest in the theater and expressed that by directly supporting the advancement of the art form in countless ways.  We should all be so lucky to have the opportunity and the talent to spend our lives dancing back and forth between finance and the footlights.

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