In the right corner, Donald Trump.
In the left, Carl Icahn.
This fight is for control of the Trump Entertainment Casinos. This battle shows the vitality of the Atlantic City casino market. Atlantic City casino revenues have been a continued decline. Richard Wilner of The New York Post reports:
Total Atlantic City revenues this year through Nov. 30 are down 13.5 percent. Roughly one-quarter of all gambling dollars have disappeared from AC over the past three years — amounting to almost $1 billion less in revenue through the first nine months of 2009 — and the outlook isn’t getting any better as glitzy, new rivals in Pennsylvania are ready to come on line and siphon off even more customers.
There are some who have said Atlantic City will not return to her former economic strength:
“It just gets worse for Atlantic City,” said Justin T. Sebastiano, an analyst with Morgan Joseph & Co., who follows the gaming sector. “I truly believe Atlantic City is permanently disfigured.”
There is another interesting angle to this story: changing alliances. First, Beal Bank was teaming up with Donald Trump. Now, Beal Bank is aligned with Carl Icahn. Peter Grant of The Wall Street Journal explains:
Mr. Icahn announced Friday that he had purchased a majority of Beal Bank’s $486 million first-mortgage liens on casinos owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., which has been operating out of bankruptcy protection since February. Mr. Icahn said he will support a reorganization plan backed by Beal Bank, of Dallas, that would give the bank a majority stake and control of the company.Carl Icahn is facing off against a group that includes Donald Trump and a group of note holders.
Terms of the deal weren’t released. But people familiar with the matter say Mr. Icahn is getting a 51% stake in the debt and is paying between 93 cents and close to 100 cents on the dollar. Also, the deal gives Mr. Icahn a “call,” and Mr. Beal, a “put,” which, under certain circumstances, would increase Mr. Icahn’s position, people said.
Mr. Beal had been aligned with Mr. Trump in the fight until last month, when Mr. Trump switched sides and joined note holders who hold roughly $1.25 billion in unsecured debt. That side has criticized Beal’s reorganization plan partly because he has no experience in operating casinos and it’s unusual for a bank to own a casino.
Mr. Icahn in an interview said his involvement undercuts that argument. “This completely takes away that criticism,” he said.
Who will win this battle? Leave your pick in the comments below.