- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.

Three Atlantic City casinos bearing the Donald Trump brand filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday - for the third time.

Trump Entertainment Resorts made the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden, N.J., four days after the real estate magnate, whose name remains on the company and its three seaside gambling resorts, resigned as chairman of its board.

Mr. Trump was frustrated that bondholders and their allies on the board rebuffed his offer to buy the company and take it private.

“Other than the fact that it has my name on it - which I’m not thrilled about - I have nothing to do with the company,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday.

He acknowledged being sad over the end of a venture that was so publicly and relentlessly associated with his name and image. Yet he said the company “represents substantially less than 1 percent of my net worth and has for some time.”

“If I can’t manage something, it’s not for me,” said Mr. Trump, who still holds 28 percent of the company’s stock.

The company has $2.06 billion in assets and more than $1.74 billion in liabilities, according to its court filing.

All three of the company’s casinos will continue to operate as usual during the bankruptcy proceedings.

Filing three times for Chapter 11 protection is uncommon in American business, according to Harlan Platt, a professor and bankruptcy expert at Northeastern University in Boston, who has followed Trump’s casino bankruptcies for decades.

“Chapter 33. Wow. That’s rare,” he quipped.

“Mr. Trump has a way of doing business which was perfectly aligned with American capitalism over the last 20 years, but will probably be misaligned in the future,” Mr. Platt said. “He has lots of leverage and a tendency to make very bold bets.”

At least 10 other companies - including an airline, steel makers and several retailers - have filed for bankruptcy three times, according to an Associated Press review.

The casino company’s current incarnation, Trump Entertainment Resorts, was born of a prior trip through bankruptcy that ended in 2005.

Debt that was left over from that restructuring was exacerbated by the economic meltdown and competition from slots parlors in Pennsylvania and New York that have been hammering Atlantic City for more than two years.

“It was the only option left to us,” said Mark Juliano, the company’s CEO. “We will work to get it restructured and come out of this with an appropriate amount of leverage.”

Top creditors listed in the filing include U.S. Bank, the trustee for bondholders who are owed $1.3 billion; Bovis Lend Lease of Princeton, N.J., which managed construction of the $255 million Chairman Tower, which opened last fall at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, owed $7.4 million; Thermal Energy Ltd. I, a subsidiary of Pepco Energy Services that designed and operates heating and cooling systems at the Taj Mahal, owed $1.8 million; and the Hess Corp., owed $1.3 million.

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