By David Madden and Justin Finch
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — Billionaire financier Carl Icahn has offered to pony up $20 million so the Trump Taj Mahal casino-hotel can remain open while various court proceedings play out.
Several casino patrons and staffers were focused on a deal that would not only keep the Taj Mahal open, but also keep some 3,000 employees on the payroll, and restore health and some pension benefits to union workers.
“Unite Here” local 54 union president Bob McDevitt had issued a statement indicating the two sides had reached a deal to keep the casino operating while a union lawsuit over its contract is adjudicated. But at noon today, Icahn, who is set to take over Trump Entertainment in return for forgiving debt in the company, backed off from supporting the proposed accord.
”We and everybody else thought we could start moving Atlantic City forward, but it is unfortunate that one person could put the brakes on that,” McDevitt said.
The CEO at Trump Entertainment had appealed to Icahn personally to keep the Taj open, at least until Local 54’s appeal of the dismissal of their contract plays out in court — a process that could take several months.
Late this afternoon, Icahn said he is pledging $20 million to keep the Taj open indefinitely.
In a letter, Icahn promised Trump Entertainment Resorts that he will provide enough money to keep the casino open throughout bankruptcy proceedings. It had been scheduled to close at 6 a.m. Saturday.
Icahn calls Trump Entertainment one of the most financially distressed companies he’s ever seen, but he says he wants to save the jobs of the Taj Mahal’s 3,000 workers.
The company plans to hand itself over to Icahn, but only if he gets substantial tax breaks. Bills that would have done so were yanked from the New Jersey state legislature this afternoon, apparently because of the fluidity of the situation.