Aug 01, 2020
Revenue at biggest Trump properties held steady last year
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NEW YORK (AP) — Revenue at President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel and several of his biggest clubs and resorts mostly held steady last year before the coronavirus forced many to shut their doors and lay off workers, according to a financial disclosure report released Friday.
In sum, the disclosure report released by the Office of Government Ethics appears to provide little evidence that Trump’s role as president has provided a big boost to his business, as his critics had feared.
Trump’s vast properties and businesses — golf courses and hotels, office buildings and residential towers, and licenses to use his name among others services — generated revenue of more than $440 million, little changed from 2018. The value assigned to Trump’s assets was estimated at more than $1.3 billion, down slightly from the previous year.
Trump International Hotel in Washington, a magnet for lobbyists and diplomats hoping to curry favor with the administration, took in $40.5 million before its lobby was closed due to the coronavirus and other operations cut back. That is down from $40.8 million in 2018. Mar-a-Lago took in $21.4 million, down from $22.7 million.
One of the biggest revenue generators among Trump’s properties last year, the Trump National Doral Golf Club near Miami, took in $77.2 million, up from $76 million in 2018, its third year of climbing.
The Doral and Mar-a-Lago clubs were among many of Trump’s properties in several states and abroad that closed earlier this year due to the coronavirus. The company has asked for relief from tax authorities in Palm Beach County, where it operates two golf courses, and reportedly from its biggest lender, Deutsche Bank. In March and April, it laid off or furloughed at least 1,300 of its workers.
Eric Trump, who is running the family business with his brother, Don Jr., said in a statement “2019 was a fantastic year for our country and one of the best years in the history of The Trump Organization.”
For all the detail in Trump’s latest disclosure report, it gives only a partial picture of how his business has fared. It lists only revenues, not profits, for instance, and many figures are given in ranges.
Trump’s tax returns would give a better picture, but he has refused to disclose them, a first in the modern presidency. He also broke with presidential tradition by deciding not to sell off his holdings to avoid the potential conflicts with his decisions over regulations, taxes and laws that could benefit his business.
The Trump Organization, an umbrella group for his holdings, has struggled with boycotts and business blowback from Trump’s divisive comments and policies for years.
Several buildings have stripped the Trump name from their façades, including hotels in Manhattan and Toronto, and the company had to halt the rollout of two new hotel chains last year after it struggled to sign up business partners.
The total for Trump’s personal liabilities was unchanged between 2019 and 2020, showing he continues to owe debts amounting to at least $315 million to eight banks and commercial lenders. Trump’s major creditors include German-based Deutsche Bank, owed at least $130 million, and New York-headquartered commercial lender Ladder Capital, owed at least $110 million.
The only shift in Trump’s debt was a new lender, the Bryn Mawr Trust Company, a suburban Philadelphia bank which merged in 2017 with Royal Bank America, which had held a Trump debt worth between $5 million and $25 million for Seven Springs, a New York estate owned by the Trump Organization. The debt was due in 2019, but the new creditor extended Trump’s due date to 2029.
Trump’s disclosure also says he does not believe former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s work for him as his personal lawyer in 2018 and 2019 constituted a gift because he was working for free — “pro bono publico.”
“Mr. Giuliani is not able to estimate the value of that pro bona publico counsel; therefore, the value is unascertainable,” says a footnote on Trump’s form.
Along with Trump’s 78-page filing, his two closest advisors, daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, also released separate personal financial disclosures reporting at least $36 million in revenue for 2019.
At least $3.9 million of that came from revenues Ivanka Trump reported under her investment stake in Trump’s hotel in Washington, which the Trump Organization has dangled for a possible sale.
The couple both also reported new liabilities amounting to between $5 million and $25 million as part of their investments in a real estate group called Times Square Associates LLC.
Braun reported from Washington.
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Paycheck Protection Program ends Saturday, businesses struggling during COVID-19 pandemic hope for 2nd chance
NEW YORK -- Small businesses are in limbo again as the coronavirus outbreak rages and the government's $659 billion relief program draws to a close.
Companies still struggling with sharply reduced revenue are wondering if Congress will give them a second chance at the Paycheck Protection Program, which ends Saturday after giving out 5.1 million loans worth $523 billion. While the program that began April 3 has gotten mixed reviews, business owners still need help as the virus continues to spread and hamstring the economy.
"They've exhausted their funds and are looking for a Round Two," says Molly Day, a spokeswoman for the National Small Business Association, an advocacy group.
Congress is debating further help for small business as part of a broader coronavirus relief package. One proposal would allow the hardest-hit businesses, those whose revenue is down over 50%, to return for a second PPP loan; there's still over $100 billion in unclaimed money in the program.
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Lawmakers are still very far away from reaching a deal on the stimulus bill Friday.
Some businesses are already expressing concerns. For example, the 50% requirement will leave out many small businesses, says Sean Kennedy, an executive vice president at the industry group National Restaurant Association. Many hard-hit groups such as restaurants have managed to keep some revenue flowing in, but still need a financial lifeline,
"At that level only about 45% of restaurants would qualify. A second round of PPP will make or break these restaurants," he says.
At the moment, negotiations on the relief package have bogged down over unrelated issues including unemployment benefits for laid-off workers.
When the PPP was created, the widespread expectation was the pandemic would subside by the summer, businesses would reopen and life would return to some semblance of normality. That's why Congress mandated that businesses use the money within eight weeks or forfeit the chance for loan forgiveness.
Instead, late spring and summer brought a resurgence of the virus in many parts of the country as companies reopened. Many restaurants are either closed again or operating with severe restrictions on the number of diners they can serve. Sales are down at many retailers as customers would rather shop online than take a chance on an in-person visit. And companies that cater weddings or produce corporate events have little or no revenue as gatherings have been canceled, some of them for the rest of this year.
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President Donald Trump on Friday night threatened executive action if Congress doesn't come to an agreement on a coronavirus relief package.
Many businesses spent the PPP money to meet the terms for loan forgiveness, although they would have been better served saving it. (Congress later gave businesses 24 weeks to spend the money, but it was too late for many.) Five months after the pandemic hit the U.S., they need another loan.
Business is only 25% of normal at Coach's Corner, a restaurant in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, that used to be crowded after Little League and high school football games. A PPP loan helped co-owner Sue Remien hire back her 18 full- and part-time staffers, but when the money ran out, she had to lay six off again. Business is limited by social distancing and unpredictable because many customers are still uneasy about dining out.
"One day is gangbusters - everyone wants to come on a Friday night, then Saturday is nothing. I wonder if I can keep the doors open," she says.
Remien is interested in a second PPP loan, but wants to be able to use the money for expenses besides payroll, rent and insurance - the only costs allowed to be paid for under the original program. She has bills to pay while revenue is down.
While restaurants are among the hardest hit because of their extended shutdowns, other companies were able to get more benefits from the loans.
"There were challenges at the outset but once it go up and running, it really did what it needed to do," says Chris Netram, a vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, an industry group whose members include thousands of small businesses. But, he noted, many manufacturers need more help.
The loan Jim Kolea got for his truck repair business helped keep 30 staffers working although the trucking industry was hard hit by the pandemic; as manufacturers and retailers shut down, there was less need for trucks and in turn, less need for maintenance.
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Just how severely has the resurgence of the coronavirus pummeled the U.S. economy?
"Freight definitely declined for some of our customers and therefore we lost about 50% of our business," says Kolea, owner of PennFleet, based in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania. With the economy struggling, Kolea's business is still down, and having spent all his loan money, he's hoping for a second loan.
Yael Krigman didn't have to close her Washington, D.C., bakery but sales to hotels, corporate events and parties vanished and the four-month shutdown of the nearby National Zoo cut into revenue from walk-in customers.
Krigman laid off staffers and rehired them when she got a PPP loan, but that money has been spent. She's staying in business because she's changed her product mix, focusing more on comfort foods like bagels, and selling more online.
Still, Baked by Yael's revenue is still sharply lower, and Krigman says, "it's not good, and it's definitely not sustainable."
"If Congress were to allow businesses to get a second PPP loan, I would drop everything and apply immediately," she says.