The Trump Hotels brand is struggling as a trio of hotels have either dropped the Trump name or will soon.
The new majority ownership of Trump International Hotel and Tower Panama, Miami-based Ithaca Capital Partners, has served notice to Trump that it no longer wants the Trump brand associated with the Central American hotel nor does it want Trump managing the property, according to the Associated Press.
In August, Ithaca purchased the three restaurants, the 30,000-square foot conference center as well as 202 unsold condo hotel units in a transaction arranged with bondholders, investor Newland International Properties Corp. as well as hotel operator Trump International. At the time of the transaction Ithaca had plans to work with Trump, according to an Ithaca statement.
Ithaca didn't respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for Trump Hotels wrote in an email that "we have a valid, binding and enforceable long term management agreement" regarding the Trump International Hotel in Panama.
In the email, the spokesman claims that business is fine. FairFx, a London travel data firm, says that room rates for the Panama hotel are down 32% since the beginning of the year.
The changes at the 70-story Panama hotel, as reported by the AP, come after a report by NBC News earlier this month said that some of the hotel's condominium units were purchased by parties looking to launder money from the drug trade and other illicit activities.
The Trump Organization responded to that report by saying it did not develop nor own the hotel and was unaware of those issues. Since the building opened in 2011, the Trump Organization reportedly has received $32 million in payments from the property.
Ithaca's move to oust Trump is not the first time Panama investors have looked to make a change with the building. In 2015, unit owners were allegedly unhappy with the company's management of the property, firing Trump's manager from the building's board of directors. Trump responded to the crisis by filing an arbitration action, but then settled the claim and retained the hotel management contract.
The Panama property is one of several looking to shed the Trump name. Los Angeles-based private equity investor CIM Group recently bought Trump out of its licensing contract as well as its management pact for the Trump SoHo Hotel in Manhattan. CIM won control of the building after a 2014 foreclosure auction. The condo hotel which has carried the Trump name for nine years has been slumping and its restaurant Koi was shuttered in June. Neither Trump nor CIM revealed how long the agreement was for nor the terms of the buyout except to say the CIM-Trump divorce will be final by the end of the year.
The separation from CIM won't end Trump's SoHo woes. Some of the original financing for the building came from Russia, that Russian native and former Bayrock Managing Director Felix Sater was part of the original SoHo team --Bayrock even had an office in Trump Tower in New York, according to the New York Times. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is looking at Sater's ties to Trump, Trump's ties to Russia and Russia's ties to the 2016 presidential election.
Sater caused ripples for Trump before Mueller since he has a criminal rap sheet that includes assault as well as involvement in a pump and dump stock scheme which SoHo investors didn't know about. Sater's name also came up in a series of emails that went public with Trump attorney Michael Cohn regarding a proposed Trump Tower in Russia that was never built.
Last June, JCF Capital ULC announced it was stripping the Trump brand from the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto. The luxury hotel has hit hard times and has been the scene of occasional anti-Trump protests. The change required a payment of $6 million to the Trump Organization according to Bloomberg. The hotel has been rebranded under the St. Regis flag, which is owned by Marriott International. The hotel is now known as the Adelaide Hotel Toronto.
Even when the news has been good, the Trump hotel brand has suffered. While Trump converted an old post office into the splashy new Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., the property has become a target of partisan politics as Democrats and Trump detractors have pointed at guests of foreign governments staying at the hotel, saying that it's illegal for the President to receive profit from foreign officials under the Emoluments Clause. The hotel operation has even been a subject of a lawsuit over the emoluments issue brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The president's sons, Eric and Donald Jr, have gotten into the act, introducing two new Trump hotel brands, Scion and America Idea, earlier this year. In keeping with all things Trump, the new brands were announced with much pomp and circumstance. But after claiming that there were many agreements in the works regarding the two new flags, the Trump Organization has been quiet regarding signed transactions, aside from four deals in Mississippi.
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