Trump Says He’s Considering Selling Properties
NEW YORK (AP) _ Donald Trump, the king of glitzy real estate and casinos, now says he wants to become the king of cash.
The tycoon said Friday he has discussed selling or refinancing virtually every major asset he owns to raise money to buy new properties. Trump said he has hired Merrill Lynch & Co. to negotiate a possible sale of the Trump Shuttle less than a year after buying the airline from Eastern Airlines.
″If I got the right offer, I would consider selling it,″ Trump told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Trump was confirming remarks made to the Wall Street Journal, which published details of his financial plans in a story Friday after its own interview with him. The Journal’s account said Trump was so adamant about his cash strength he threatened to sue the newspaper if it suggested otherwise.
Speculation about Trump’s net worth and business intentions have gathered momentum ever since his marital problems became the latest gossip-tabloid fodder earlier this year.
Forbes magazine, for example, says it has slashed an estimate of Trump’s net worth by more than $1 billion, to around $500 million. In its May 14 cover story, which Forbes made available Friday, the magazine says it revised the estimate after examining nonpublic documents submitted by Trump last year to a government body, which Forbes declined to specify.
The article questions whether Trump’s cash flow is sufficient to cover the debt and interest payments from his vast holdings.
Trump denied that his empire faces any cash shortage problems, saying he has cash reserves of $380 million.
″I’m very liquid now,″ he told the AP. ″I want to build up cash because I think cash is going to be king.″
He did not elaborate, but said he is interested in raising cash so that he will have funds on hand in the future to acquire additional properties.
Among Trump’s assets are New York’s Plaza Hotel, the glitzy Trump Tower skyscraper on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, and casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., including the $1 billion Taj Mahal casino, which recently opened with much fanfare.
Some people in the financial community are watching for signs that Trump might be accumulating cash to cope with a current or anticipated cash crunch caused by a heavy debt load.
″He’s in a cash squeeze. Why else is he doing this?″ said a hotel industry analyst.
He and other analysts spoke on condition they not be identified, partly out of fear of arousing Trump’s lawsuit threats against people whose views he doesn’t like.
Last month, gaming industry analyst Marvin Roffman was fired by his firm, Janney Montgomery Scott Inc. in Philadelphia, after he made negative comments published in the Journal about the Taj Mahal’s long-term prospects. Trump threatened to sue the firm and Roffman was fired after he rescinded his initial written apology to the developer.
Several of Trump’s biggest holdings don’t produce enough income to cover interest payments on loans taken out to pay for acquisitions. This means that Trump relies heavily on cash cows, such as casinos and condominiums, according to the Journal article.
The Plaza and Trump Tower will not be sold, Trump said.