Wednesday 29 January 2020

Trump’s wealth slipping as Tower underperforms

Trump Towers is now valued at $450m, down from $480m in 2012
Trump Towers is now valued at $450m, down from $480m in 2012

Caleb Melby

Donald Trump’s office properties aren’t bringing in as much cash as banks that loaned him money had expected.

That’s the biggest finding in an updated assessment of the president’s net worth, which has slipped to $2.9bn (€2.6bn), according to the Bloomberg Bnaires Index, down from $3bn (€2.7bn) a year ago. The calculation, five months after Trump’s inauguration, relies on figures compiled from lenders, mortgage documents, annual reports, market data and a new financial disclosure released June 16.

The decrease is driven mostly by a drop in the value of three office properties in Manhattan, where financial data compiled by Trump’s lenders offer a consistent picture: They’re underperforming appraisals conducted when Trump was issued loans. The buildings - 40 Wall Street, Trump Tower, and 1290 Avenue of the Americas, a tower in which Trump holds a 30 percent stake - are victims of a changing New York office market, where gleaming new skyscrapers are attracting tenants and demand for space in vintage properties is falling.

The Bloomberg calculation, which previously relied in part on banks’ estimates and appraisals, is now based solely on the three properties’ actual financial results disclosed by managers of mortgage-security trusts that hold Trump debt. The present value of the three properties has been revised down by a combined $380m (€341m).

Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organisation, and Jeffrey McConney, the company’s controller, didn’t respond to emails detailing Bloomberg’s methodology. An outside spokeswoman didn’t return calls for comment. Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, didn’t respond to emails.

The decrease in the value of the three towers was almost offset by successes in other corners of Trump’s empire. His portfolio of liquid assets, including cash, has jumped to $230m (€206m) from $170m (€152.5m) following condo sales and other payouts from the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, as well as the sale of a Manhattan penthouse apartment. He sold most of his stock portfolio last summer, a spokesman said in December.

Trump’s companies received new licensing fees for branded projects in Vancouver and Kolkata, the financial disclosure shows. On an annualised basis, revenue at his 16 golf and resort properties rose 3 percent. Mar-a-Lago, which Trump has visited frequently since the election, saw a 25 percent jump in sales.

The properties now have a combined value of $720m (€646m), up from $710m (€637m), according to the index, an increase dampened by declining multiples for golf course properties.

At the same time, Trump’s debt load has shrunk to at least $550m (€493m) from about $630m (€565m) last year, according to lender data and repayment schedules.

The Wall Street building, appraised at $540m (€484.5m) in 2015, had projected annual net operating income of $22.6m (€20.27m), according to documents shared at the time with potential investors in the property’s debt. It earned $17.4m (€15.6m) in 2016, a year in which it was on a lender watchlist for three months because rental income barely covered debt payments. The property was removed from the list as its situation improved. The index values the property at $400m (€359m) based on last year’s performance.

Trump Tower, the president’s home and headquarters before he moved to the White House, is facing a similar problem. Its offices and stores were appraised at $480m (€430m) in 2012, with net income estimated at $20.4m (€18.3m).

The property generated $14.1m (€12.65m) of net income last year after higher expenses ate into revenue, lender documents show. The building, including Trump’s penthouse apartment, is now valued at $450m (€404m).

The office tower at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, which Trump owns in partnership with Vornado Realty Trust, also has failed to meet lender expectations. The building was appraised at $2bn (€1.79bn) in 2012 on the assumption it would throw off $97.7m (€87.6m) of annual net income. But it generated $77.7m (€69.7m) last year.

“We’re in the biggest development pipeline in Manhattan since the 1980s,” said Keith DeCoster, director of real estate analytics at Savills Studley. “Older buildings - circa 1980s, 1990s - are having a tougher time competing.”

Trump has retained his ownership interest in his companies. Unlike previous occupants of the Oval Office, he neither divested his assets nor set up a blind trust. Instead, he transferred his holdings to a revocable trust managed by his adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s CFO.

Trump’s own estimates of his net worth are frequently higher than independent appraisals. When he announced his candidacy in 2015, his campaign released a document stating he had a net worth of $8.7bn (€7.8bn). Later that year, when Bloomberg first assessed his net worth at $3bn (€2.69bn), he described it as “a stupid report.” He later repeatedly asserted he was worth more than $10bn (€8.97bn).

One difference between Trump’s estimates and Bloomberg’s is the value of his personal brand. The 2015 document released by Trump’s campaign said his ability to license his name and likeness to everything from international hotels to mattresses is worth $3.3bn (€2.96bn). Bloomberg assigns it a value of $35m (€31.4m). That value hasn’t changed since Trump won the Republican nomination last July.


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