Wilbur Ross, the man Donald Trump wants to be the next secretary of the Department of Commerce, knows the president-elect and Atlantic City well.
He was involved in a deal that helped keep Trump in charge of the debt-laden Trump Taj Mahal Casino resort months after it opened in 1990. Read the original Press of Atlantic City story here.
In 1990, Ross was a financial adviser to bondholders who had loaned Trump $675 million to finish building the Taj Mahal a few years prior. But several months after the casino opened in April 1990, it couldn’t overcome its massive debt and missed interest payments, risking a bankruptcy filing.
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Trump struck a deal with bondholders on Nov. 16, 1990. The agreement gave bondholders half the equity in the casino, but allowed Trump to remain in charge.
At the time, Ross told The Press of Atlantic City that bondholders agreed to let Trump keep control because "he is a valuable asset."
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported the strategy “helped Trump avoid a personal bankruptcy that could have derailed his unlikely trajectory from real-estate mogul to reality television star to president-elect.”
Editor's note: This article first appeared in The Press of Atlantic City on Friday, Oct. 19, 1990.
Jason Miller, the communications director for Trump’s transition team, told the Los Angeles Times, that Trump respects Ross’s skills in making deals.
“He’s seen Mr. Ross up close and personal,” Miller told the Times. “He knows he can depend on him.”
Ross told The Press of Atlantic City the day the deal was reached: "We made what we consider a fair deal - fair to both sides. Fair means that neither side got exactly what it wanted, but both sides made out quite a bit better than they would have in a (contested) bankruptcy.”
An earlier Trump proposal was rejected by Ross and bondholders.
The casino eventually would go through two other bankruptcies before closing in October of this year under the ownership of billionaire Carl Icahn.
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