By Wayne Parry — Associated Press Writer
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The three Atlantic City casinos once run by Donald Trump filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on 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 mogul whose name remains on the company and its three seaside gambling resorts resigned as chairman of its board.
Trump was frustrated that bond holders 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," Trump told The Associated Press 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 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," Platt said. "He has lots of leverage and a tendency to make very bold bets, " Platt said.
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 still 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.
Other claimants include insurers, slot machine manufacturers, a food service company, a linen supplier, a limousine company and a billboard company.
Trump Entertainment's three casinos are the Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, and Trump Marina Hotel Casino, which is to be sold this spring to a company led by Richard Fields, a former protege of Donald Trump. Juliano said the bankruptcy filing will have no effect on the Trump Marina sale.
In the meantime, Juliano stressed that all three Trump casinos will be open for business as usual, and customer loyalty programs will remain in effect.
"This is a restructuring, not a liquidation," he said. "Vendors and employees will be paid, customers will have winning bets paid."
He said the company is not seeking debtor-in-possession financing, and has enough cash on hand to fund its current operations.
The company skipped a biannual $53.1 million debt payment that was due last Dec. 1 and started negotiating with its bond holders on a refinancing of $1.25 billion in debt. Those talks were extended four times before they ended with Tuesday's bankruptcy filing.
Trump acknowledged the company has limited rights to use his name but hinted he may seek legal action to force them to stop using it.
His daughter, Ivanka, whose image has been increasingly used to market the casinos, also resigned from the board last Friday.
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