Trump, buyer lower price for Trump Marina sale

October 29, 2008 9:55:52 AM PDT
Sometimes the art of the deal calls for it to be redone. That's what has happened to an agreement between Donald Trump and a former protege of his who's buying the Trump Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City.

Due to the worsening economy, both sides agreed to reduce the purchase price for the casino-hotel to $270 million, down from the $316 million they set as the price back in May.

Trump's company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, can also scrap the whole deal if it doesn't go through by the end of May.

New York developer Richard Fields is teaming with singer Jimmy Buffett's business arm to re-brand the casino as "Margaritaville."

Despite the lower price, Donald Trump said he's glad the deal is still on. The worsening economy and credit crunch have put many casino projects on hold across the country or forced them to be canceled outright.

"I think Fields and the group are making a wonderful deal for the building," Trump said Wednesday.

In return for dropping the price, Trump will get a slightly larger deposit: $15 million upfront, and another $2 million to be held in escrow until the deal closes.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday night, Trump Entertainment Resorts and Coastal Development LLC said they waived a requirement that Fields provide financing commitments to Trump by Tuesday.

Trump Entertainment Resorts can cancel the deal if it does not close by May 28, although it has the right to extend the deadline for 60 days to allow Fields to obtain the necessary state approvals if a deal appears close.

Perhaps most significantly, the restructured deal keeps in place an agreement to end a lawsuit Trump brought against Fields over a failed attempt to woo the Seminole tribe for a casino project in Florida for Trump.

Fields later did the deal with a different partner, prompting Trump to sue. Settling the lawsuit was an integral part of the original $316 million purchase price.

Many analysts said Fields would be overpaying at that price for one of the worst-performing casinos in Atlantic City, and speculated that the inflated price was something of a peace offering to Trump.

Trump Marina's revenues are down 12 percent for the year. Only the Atlantic City Hilton (down 15.2 percent) and its sister property, Resorts Atlantic City (down 13.4 percent) are doing worse so far this year among Atlantic City's 11 casinos.

Trump filed a lawsuit in Broward County, Fla., in December 2005, seeking unspecified damages against Fields, whom he accused of lying to him. Trump said Fields advised him to abandon the deal that Trump had been cultivating with the Seminoles for three years, according to the lawsuit.

Then Fields teamed up with Baltimore-based Cordish Co. and, the lawsuit said, they fraudulently represented themselves as Trump associates to land the deal.

The lawsuit charged Fields with fraud, misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty.

Fields plans to keep the casino open during renovations and the transition to "Margaritaville."


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