Trump returning to business ravaged by debt, pandemic-related shutdowns

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President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Donald Trump is returning to a family business ravaged by pandemic shutdowns and restrictions, with revenue plunging more than 40% at his Doral golf property, his Washington hotel and both his Scottish resorts over the past year.

Trump’s 2020 financial disclosure released as he left office this week was just the latest bad news for his financial empire after banks, real estate brokerages and golf organizations announced they were cutting ties with his company following the storming of the Capitol this month by his political supporters.

The disclosure showed sizable debt facing the company of more than $300 million, much of it coming due in the next four years, and a major bright spot: Revenue at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, his new post-presidency home, rose by a few million dollars.

Eric Trump, who with Donald Trump Jr. has run the Trump Organization the past four years, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that the disclosure doesn’t tell the whole story, calling the debt “negligible” and the outlook for the company bright, especially at its golf resorts and courses.

“The golf business has never been stronger. We took in hundreds and hundreds of new members,” he said, adding that profits were in the “tens of millions.”

Hinting at possible new ventures in the post-presidency era, Eric Trump raised the prospect of a flurry of new licensing deals in which the Trump name is put on a product or building for a fee, a business that has generated tens of millions for the company in the past.

“The opportunities are endless,” he said, declining to give details.

The disclosure report filed each year with federal ethics officials shows only revenue figures, not profits, but the hit to Trump’s business appeared widespread.

The National Doral Golf Club outside of Miami, his biggest money maker among the family’s golf properties, took in $44.2 million in revenue, a drop of $33 million from 2019. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, once buzzing with lobbyists and diplomats before operations were cut back last year, generated just $15.1 million in revenue, down more than 60% from the year before.

Trump’s Turnberry club in Scotland took in less than $10 million, down more than 60%. Revenue at the family’s golf club in Aberdeen dropped by roughly the same proportion.

The Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach club where Trump arrived Wednesday, saw revenue rise 10% to $24.2 million. Revenue at a golf club near that club and one in Charlotte, North Carolina, also rose, up about 5 percent to $13 million each.

In total, Trump’s vast holding of hotels, resorts, office buildings, licensing deals and other assets took in at least $278 million for 2020 and the first few weeks of the new year, down more than a third from a minimum of about $450 million in 2019.

The financial blow from former clients and business partners cutting ties to Trump is unclear, but it could be sizable. The PGA of America canceled a championship tournament at Trump’s Bedminster club in New Jersey, and several banks said they would no longer lend to the company, making it more difficult to roll over its debt with new loans.

In addition, New York City said it would be canceling various contracts with the company, including those running skating rinks and a golf club in the Bronx. Revenue at that course, the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, fell 20% last year to $6.4 million.

Eric Trump dismissed the backlash, saying parts of the business that get less attention, such as its commercial buildings, are thriving.

“I’ve signed 125,000 square feet of office space in the fourth quarter alone,” he said, referring to new leases. “We hit it out of the park.”

The disclosure report was unclear on that claim, though the revenue at four of the company’s most important commercial buildings — Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue, a Wall Street building, and two towers owned with real estate giant Vornado — seemed to have held up during the pandemic.

The report, which gives some figures in broad ranges and vague “more than” estimates, said the four took in over $20 million in total last year, unchanged from a year earlier.

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