The deal to sell the Trump Marina Casino in Atlantic City, a struggle for months, is nearly dead.
Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the owner of Trump Marina, has asked Lazard Asset Management L.L.C. to shop the troubled property as part of its bankruptcy filing on Feb. 17.
The move has Coastal Development L.L.C., of New York, a potential buyer, crying foul as the May 26 deadline to close the deal approaches.
"Coastal Marina [an affiliate of Coastal Development] is troubled by recent reports that suggest that Trump . . . may be actively engaged in promoting the sale of the Trump Marina Hotel and Casino to other potential buyers in breach of its exclusive agreement to sell the property to Coastal," company spokesman Charlie Leonard said yesterday.
Trump officials contend Coastal has not proceeded on making the purchase.
Mark Juliano, chief executive officer of Trump Entertainment, confirmed that Lazard was marketing the three Trump casinos - Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, and Trump Marina. He said Lazard was the firm's financial adviser, and that "it was doing its job" in showing the company's assets around.
"From the day we filed for bankruptcy, we had 120 days to submit a plan of reorganization," Juliano said. "That plan must include the marketing efforts that were undertaken to market the company and results of that."
Juliano said that if another party stepped forward and was interested in buying the whole company, then it would have to honor the contractual agreement that Trump Entertainment entered with Coastal on May 29, 2008.
Under the deal, Coastal plans to buy and convert the Trump Marina into a Margaritaville-themed casino using entertainer Jimmy Buffett.
But the deal has been beset with problems as the economy and lending markets sagged over the last year.
The Marina sale was revised last fall, reducing the price to $270 million from the original offer of $316 million. A deadline to close the deal in October was moved to May 26.
"They have not asked for another extension, and I don't assume they will," Juliano said of Coastal yesterday.
Charles A. Stanziale Jr., the lawyer representing Trump Entertainment in its latest bankruptcy, said Coastal had not contacted him for several weeks.
There are other signs the deal is in serious trouble. Coastal does not have interim casino authorization, which is required in acquiring a casino property in New Jersey, according to the state Casino Control Commission.