Originally created 03/31/04

Donald Trump's Atlantic City casinos in trouble financially



ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- While Donald Trump basks in the popularity of his runaway hit reality TV show, "The Apprentice," the auditors for his Atlantic City casino property are raising alarms over the financier's real-life debt load.

Barring a bailout, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts may not be able to continue as a "going concern," auditors for Ernst & Young LLP warned in a letter to the company's board of directors.

The debt-laden company, which runs three Atlantic City casinos, is struggling under stiff competition, recurring operating losses and had a working capital deficit as of Dec. 31, 2003, the auditors said.

The letter was made public Tuesday as part of Trump Hotels' annual report filed with regulators.

"The company is working on various alternatives to improve the company's financial resources ... Absent the successful completion of one of these alternatives, the company's operating results will increasingly become uncertain. These conditions raise substantial doubt about the company's ability to continue as a going concern," the auditors said.

Last month, Trump announced that Credit Suisse First Boston had agreed to make a $400 million cash infusion into the company in exchange for a controlling stake.

If approved by bondholders, the deal would result in Trump's removal as chief executive officer. He would stay on as chairman, but the company would be called Trump International, under the plan.

Trump Hotels, which carries $1.8 billion in debt, has been unable to finance major capital improvements at its Atlantic City properties at a time when competitors - including the new Borgata Hotel Spa & Casino - have been luring away gamblers.

Shares of Trump Hotels fell 35 cents, or 11 percent, to close at $2.71 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares fell another 2 cents in after-hours trading.