Stock takes dive when Trump announces deal failure

Jul 3, 2007 7:13 AM

It’s just as if Donald Trump slammed the box shut and shouted "No Deal."

But the Monday pronouncement caused a negative reaction among investors who put the shares of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. into a downward spiral, losing $2.09 per share before closing at $10.49.

Shareholders were encouraged some four months ago when the company announced it had hired Merrill Lynch to help it plan its future strategy. That was taken to mean the company would be sold if the right buyer was found.

Rumors suggested the company was in talks with several different potential acquirers, including Dune Capital Management LP, which is run by some Goldman Sachs honchos.

But, the best hope for a sale came last week when it was announced that longtime gaming executive and former Trump employee Dennis Gomes, and his partner, developer Morris Bailey, were making a serious pitch for the company and its three Atlantic City casinos.

The euphoria lasted only briefly, however. Within days, analysts were privately telling clients that what Gomes and partner were willing to pay for the financially-troubled company was far less than what Donald, the owner of about 27% of the outstanding shares, was asking.

On Monday, the company issued a statement saying it failed in its attempt to strike a deal with potential buyers and that there were no ongoing talks with people of interest.

However, the company said it would continue to explore its options while attempting to reduce operating expenses. On that matter, the company said it had terminated two of its executives: Paul Keller, executive vice president of design and construction, and Virginia McDowell, executive vice president and chief information officer.

Macau move

Spurred on by the success it has enjoyed with its Las Vegas partnership in the Maloof family’s Palms Hotel/Resorts, Playboy Enterprises (PLA) has decided to attempt to tap the Chinese market with a Playboy Mansion in the gambling mecca of Macau.

Christie Hefner, chairman and CEO, said Playboy Mansion Macao will be part of a $2 billion resort scheduled to open next year. She will be partnering with a pair of U.S. hedge funds as well as David Friedman, who formerly was one of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) executives in the Chinese enclave.

This will be Hefner’s second attempt to crack the Chinese marketplace. She was rebuffed in 2004 attempt to establish a foothold in Shanghai.

In a television interview, Hefner, daughter of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, said the company planned to pursue opportunities in every foreign jurisdiction that permits gambling.

Still no action

Ignoring dire warnings that the state could see the closing of its two primary thoroughbred racetracks, Maryland lawmakers continue to reject efforts to approve the installation of slot machines at Laurel and Pimlico.

This, despite the fact that a $1.5 billion budget deficit is forcing Gov. Martin O’Malley to make severe cuts in state services.

O’Malley, who favors the slots idea as both a way to save the horse industry in Maryland and to generate more state revenue, says he would call a special session of the legislature if he could find a consensus among the legislative leadership. So far, he says, there is no consensus.

Principal owner of the two tracks is Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA) which bought the facilities in hopes of getting slots. The state faces severe competition from Delaware, West Virginia and now Pennsylvania where slots have been approved.

THE INSIDER: Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE) has opened a new hotel/casino in Waterloo, Iowa.

International Game Technology (IGT) has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.13 per share to be paid on July 23 to owners of record on July 9. Also, the company announced that it will conduct its third quarter fiscal conference call on Thursday, July 19.

Michael Newman, who resigned (or was pushed out of his job) as CEO of Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA), was awarded a severance of $1 million, to be paid in 12 monthly installments. He was on the job for about four months.

Stephen Lawrence, one of two Canadians who founded Neteller PLC, the company that processed financial transactions for Internet gambling companies, has pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal conspiracy. He will be sentenced in October.

GameLogic Inc. has signed a content licensing agreement with Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) for its player loyalty system called PlayAway.

Don Barden’s casino license for Pittsburgh, Pa., is being challenged by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates who allege that his casino plan failed to give adequate consideration to traffic concerns, especially during times of NFL or MLB games.

The Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians plans to build a $300 million resort hotel and casino in Alexander Valley, Cal.

Officials for the United Auto Workers have started gathering signatures in a bid to unionize workers at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, a property operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Indians.

UBS AG has advised the Security and Exchange Commission that it now owns 5.74% of Station Casinos Inc. (STN) stock.

Lakes Entertainment Inc. (LACO) says it has closed on a $450 million senior note loan that will provide financing for the Foothill Oaks Casino project being built by the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians in California.

Analysts at Merriman Curhan Ford have initiated coverage of Cash Systems Inc. (CKNN) with a buy rating.

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) will give its second quarterly financial report on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

The three casinos operated by Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. (TRMP) in Atlantic City have been granted new five-year licenses.