Passed over for the U.S. Attorney's post in L.A., Richard Drooyan, one of the top securities lawyers in Los Angeles, is expected to step down as chief assistant U.S. attorney, a spokesman for the office confirmed last week.

Nora Manella, the current U.S. attorney here, will officially vacate her post on Dec. 21. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has chosen Asst. U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas as her successor, subject to approval by the U.S. Senate and the president.

Drooyan, no doubt worth seven figures in the private sector, is said to be mulling offers. "I anticipate he will be leaving this office," said U.S. Attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek. Drooyan could not be reached for comment.

So how good is Drooyan? Put it this way: When Michael Milken was under legal attack in 1991 and had the money to hire any lawyer he wanted, he chose Drooyan, then with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in downtown Los Angeles, to represent him in a very ticklish securities arbitration case.

Drooyan engineered a defense that thwarted charges by a former Milken associate that the associate had introduced Milken to Fred Carr, then chief of insurance giant Executive Life, and contractually was entitled to commissions and interest on years of major transactions. Milken didn't pay the commissions, and prevailed in NASD-sanctioned arbitration proceedings.

Highly regarded in both the private sector and within the U.S. Attorney's Office, Drooyan's departure and where he chooses to alight are being closely watched by the local securities bar.

Going postal

Santa Monica-based Stampmaster Inc., an Internet company that allows small companies to print out their own postage stamps on personal computer printers, was voted "Best of the Show" at the recent VentureNet 98 held by the Software Council of Southern California, a trade group of software, multimedia and Internet companies.

But venture capitalists need not knock on Stampmaster's doors it is already well-financed by some big players in the local venture community, including West Los Angeles-based Brentwood Venture Capital, Los Angeles-based Enterprise Partners, and Orange County-based Forest Binkley Brown.

Stampmaster allows small and medium-sized companies to create an account with the Postal Service, assigning them a bar code that can be printed onto company envelopes. Postal Service bar-code readers will accept the "stamps" printed out with Stampmaster software and charge the company's account for the cost of postage.

"You just download software from our Web site, for free." said John Payne, president and chief executive of the 3-year-old Stampmaster, which has 35 employees and is shooting for 50 by early 1999. "If you are a small company that mails 10 pieces a day, you are our target market."

Payne plans to go through another round of venture capital provided by his present financial sponsors before going public in the not-too-distant future.

"We haven't filed a registration, but that is the obvious thing for a company like us to do," he said. Payne points out that in 1998, about $44 billion of stamps will be sold.

Real estate

The real estate investment trusts aren't buying and mortgage lenders are leery, but Kevin Shields, managing director and founder of Manhattan Beach-based real estate investment bank Griffin Capital, is treading where others won't.

"We like it that the REITs aren't buying there are more opportunities out there for us," he said.

Shields' forte is finding properties being disposed of by corporations, then finding and locking in tenants with long-term leases, then buying the property though a private placement of securitized debt through a brokerage.

Recently, Griffin acquired a 567,000-square-foot warehouse in Clinton, S.C. from Fruit of the Loom Inc. for $11.7 million, and simultaneously leased it for 15 years to Renfro Corp., a hosiery maker.

Formerly with Salomon Smith Barney and then Jefferies Corp., Shields today has built up a portfolio of nearly $100 million in property, and has several big deals in the offing.

Unlike many real estate investors, Shields doesn't profess a need to stay in one geographic market, or type of property. "What matters to me is the lease, and the financing," he said.

Quick takes

Securities brokerage Salomon Smith Barney has reached back to Chicago to find a branch manager for its 30-stockbroker retail office in Glendale. Mark Evans fills a slot vacated when former branch manager Robert Perry took over Solly's downtown office. Not content with that, Solly recently transferred Philip Waxelbaum, formerly branch manager of its 32-broker Sherman Oaks office, to head up its Phoenix branch. No successor in Sherman Oaks has yet been named...

Downtown brokerage Wedbush Morgan Securities reiterated a "buy" rating on Calabasas-based THQ Inc., a publisher, distributor and developer of interactive entertainment software for the home video game market. Last week, THQ stock traded near $30 a share, way up from the $10 a share where it had sunk in August during the summer slump. Wedbush predicts continued strong sales and rising net income...

Managing Director Andy Gordon in the downtown Los Angeles offices of Goldman Sachs was the lead banker advising El Segundo-based Mattel Inc. on its $3 billion stock-swap bid last week for software entertainment giant The Learning Co....

Executive compensation in the big leagues: Century City-based Northrop Grumman Corp. has registered $445.7 million worth of stock for executive compensation plans, according to an obscure SEC filing known as an S-8

The SEC last week issued a cease and desist order to Seal Beach-based Spectrum Administration, a registered financial adviser. The SEC said that Ronald Kindschi and Michael Flanagan Sr. of Spectrum sold shares in mutual funds to customers that generated high fees without telling customers that virtually the same investments could be made for much lower fees. Additionally, larger, long-term investors received poor investment advice regarding the funds, said the SEC.

Contributing Reporter Benjamin Mark Cole writes about the local investment community for the Los Angeles Business Journal. He can be reached at sevencontinents@mindspring.com.

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