To start with, let’s lay out the bottom line facts. Trump has created 515 businesses and only 11 of them failed. that’s a 98.64% success rate. Let’s see YOU match that!
It’s time to get to the bottom of this “bankruptcy” issue. “How can a person who has filed bankruptcy four times expect to be elected President of the United States?” “How is Donald Trump able to file for bankruptcy so many times?”
The answer is… “He didn’t.” Trump himself has never filed for bankruptcy. His corporations have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy four times.
All of these bankruptcies were connected to over-leveraged casino and hotel properties in Atlantic City, all of which are now operated under the banner of Trump Entertainment Resorts. Again, so you will understand, he has never filed for personal bankruptcy, an important distinction when considering his ability to emerge relatively unscathed, at least financially.
But to those uninitiated in bankruptcy laws, four instances of corporate bankruptcy in a row can seem staggering. “To the ordinary person in the street, it may seem surprising, but certainly not to me,” said Reed Smith partner Michael Venditto, who has represented clients in high profile Chapter 11 cases, including bankrupt airline TWA. “Chapter 11 is how you reshape and restructure a company that has problems. It doesn’t indicate anything nefarious or even bad management.”
By filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the corporation
is allowed to continue running while restructuring
and reducing its debt. By allowing the business to continue, employees still have their jobs and the business is still making money. Corporate debts still need to be repaid but they may be reduced. The corporation must develop a repayment plan
and corporate budget. All must be approved by the creditors and by the bankruptcy court
The purpose is to “save” the business, as opposed to other forms of bankruptcy which would liquidate the company, said Michael Venditto, a partner at the ReedSmith law firm who has extensive experience with Chapter 11.
A sharp contrast of corporate bankruptcies is found in the airline industry. If you’re foolish enough to bash Trump for keeping the businesses open through reorganization bankruptcy, perhaps you’re just confused.
Aloha Airlines filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2008, ceasing operations, leaving passengers stranded and many ‘out in the cold’ with tickets they had already purchased? Chapter 7 is what happens when the business is liquidated and closed, most unsecured debts don’t get paid and the secured-lenders get pennies on the dollar, if anything.
Maybe you thought Trump did that?
By contrast, Delta, United and American Airlines have all filed chapter 11 bankruptcy in the past 15 years. All three are now impressively profitable and employee a total of 246,000 people. So if you think we should judge any executive who took those three airlines through rough market turmoil and reorganization, which ultimately saved them from liquidation (chapter 7) bankruptcy, then you are foolish.
Trump doesn’t deny that four of his hundreds of businesses have filed for bankruptcy. He argues, however, that filing for bankruptcy is a common business decision, and he was smart to make the moves when he did.
“Out of hundreds of deals — hundreds — on four occasions, I’ve taken advantage of the laws of this country, like other people,” he said. “The difference is, when somebody else uses those laws, nobody writes about it. When I use it, it’s like, ‘Oh, Trump, Trump, Trump.’ The fact is, I built a net worth of more than $10 billion. I have a great, great company. I employ thousands of people. And I’m very proud of the job I did.”
Because this dead horse keeps getting beaten, let’s look at Trump’s four bankruptcies. And the opinions of some finance experts, who say Trump is correct that Chapter 11 reorganization is not always the result of bad business decisions.
Bankruptcy 1: The Trump Taj Mahal, 1991
Trump’s first corporate bankruptcy, for the Trump Taj Mahal, was the one that stung the most. It was also the only time at which his personal finances were at stake.
Trump first got his hands on the property in 1988 as part of a deal involving media mogul Merv Griffin. Trump ceded his controlling interest of Atlantic City hotel-casino company Resorts International Inc. to Griffin in exchange for ownership of the Taj Mahal. The casino opened in 1990 to enormous fanfare, including an appearance by pop star Michael Jackson, who Trump called his friend and a “tremendous talent.”
He funded the construction of the $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, which opened in 1990. By 1991, the casino was nearly $3 billion in debt, while Trump had racked up nearly $900 million in personal liabilities, so the business decided to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, according to the New York Times. As a result, Trump gave up half his personal stake in the casino and sold his yacht and airline, according to the Washington Post.
The Times reported that Trump faced about $900 million in personal liabilities, which he reduced to about $550 million by the end of the year. The ordeal led to the sale of his Trump Princess Yacht and Trump Shuttle airline.
It provided an important lesson as well. Ted Connolly, a Boston Bankruptcy attorney who studied Trump for his book The Road Out of Debt: Bankruptcy and Other Solutions to Your Financial Problems, told TheStreet in an August interview that the first bankruptcy was a learning experience for Trump.
“The first business bankruptcy, he had a lot of personal liabilities, guarantees on the business debt, which would have wiped him out,” Connolly said. “What he did was leverage the amount of business debt to negotiate away his personal liability. And from that, he learned not to put his personal wealth at risk anymore. And so in the next three, he didn’t have any personal guarantees.”
Through the ordeal was bruising for Trump, one person involved in the case said his brand and persona helped him to retain more equity than he might have otherwise. And in true Trump fashion, he denied being too concerned about the issue anyway.
“You’ll never see me sitting in the corner sucking my thumb,” Trump told BusinessWeek at the time. “The name Trump will be hotter than ever.”
Bankruptcy 2: Trump Plaza Hotel, 1992
Trump seems to have had an inkling from the get-go that the Plaza deal may not have been the best he ever made .
“I haven’t purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece — the Mona Lisa,” he wrote in a 1988 essay in New York magazine. “For the first time in my life, I have knowingly made a deal which was not economic — for I can never justify the price I paid, no matter how successful The Plaza becomes.”
Trump acquired the Plaza Hotel in New York for $390 million in 1988. By November, 1992, the hotel had accumulated $550 million in debt. As a result of the bankruptcy, in exchange for easier terms on which to pay off the debts, Trump relinquished a 49 percent stake in the Plaza to a total of six lenders, according to ABC News.
A month later, federal bankruptcy judge Prudence Abraham approved a plan for Trump to reorganize more than $550 million in debt.
As part of the restructuring and to receive easier payment terms, he gave a 49% stake in the property to Citibank (C – Get Report) and five other lenders. He kept his post as chief executive — without pay — and no longer had a role in the day-to-day operations of the luxury hotel.
Bankruptcy 3: Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts, 2004
Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2004 when his casinos — including the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Marina and Trump Plaza casinos in Atlantic City and a riverboat casino in Indiana — had accrued an estimated $1.8 billion in debt, according to the Associated Press. Trump agreed to reduce his share in the company from 47 to 27 percent in a restructuring plan, but he was still the company’s largest single shareholder and remained in charge of its operations.
The third bankruptcy didn’t appear to bruise Trump’s ego. At the end of the year, he said in an interview that the Trump brand was bigger than Pepsi (PEP – Get Report) andCoca-Cola (KO – Get Report) and emphasized that Atlantic City was just a drop in the bucket for him. “The casinos represent less than 1% of my net worth, OK?” he said. “I’m doing something that, frankly, if someone else did it, it wouldn’t even be a story.”
Bankruptcy 4: Trump Entertainment Resorts, 2009
Trump Entertainment Resorts — formerly Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts — was hit hard by the 2008 economic recession and missed a $53.1 million bond interest payment in December 2008, according to ABC News. After debating with the company’s board of directors, Trump resigned as the company’s chairman and had his corporate stake in the company reduced to 10 percent. The company continued to use Trump’s name in licensing.
So four Trump companies filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. Is that as big a deal as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz said?
While it would be better to avoid a situation where Chapter 11 reorganization is necessary, filing for bankruptcy can be a “sound business decision” when the company is facing serious financial problems, Venditto said. It’s better than the business shutting down completely.
“However, the source of the financial problems varies from case to case,” he said. “Sometimes it is the result of circumstances beyond the control of the business. Sometime it caused by poor judgment. More frequently, it is a combination.”
Trump’s four bankruptcies all happened within the past 25 years. That’s a lot, said Stephen Lubben, a leading expert in corporate finance and professor at Seton Hall School of Law. But to be fair, the gaming industry has been struggling the past few years, he added, and three out of four of Trump’s bankruptcies were tied to casinos.
It’s not fair to put all the blame on Trump for the four bankruptcies because he’s acting as any investor would. Investors often own many non-integrated companies, which they fund by taking on debt, and some of them inevitably file for bankruptcy, said Adam Levitin, a law professor at Georgetown University.
He added that people typically wouldn’t personally blame former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney or investor Warren Buffett for individual failures within their investment companies, Bain Capital and Berkshire Hathaway, respectively.
“The only difference is that Trump puts his name on his companies, which means people associate them with him, but he’s not at all the leader in the bankruptcy space,” Levitan said. “These bankruptcies were not defining moments for Trump and shouldn’t color our view of him.”
“Filing bankruptcy” is taking advantage of existing laws.
It would be ludicrous not to utilize a law that is available to you, either as a business or as an individual.
For example, many states have laws that allow for a “cooling off” period after purchasing something, like a vehicle. You are allowed to cancel the contract within a certain number of hours after the sale (usually 48-72 hours).
If you changed your mind about a vehicle purchase, would you not use the law that allows you to return the vehicle without penalty?
Of course you would.
And if you did it, you wouldn’t describe yourself as a bad person or bad with business.
So there’s your answer…
Expect the liberals to continue this lie despite the facts.
Sources: The Moran Law Group, MJM Bankruptcy Law Group, et al.
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