Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy as Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul who licensed his name to the property, makes a bid for the White House.
Donald Trump isn’t involved in the operations of the golf course and a “difficult business climate in Puerto Rico” resulted in the owner’s financial woes, said Eric Trump, the presidential candidate’s son and an executive at the Trump Organization.
“We have zero financial investment in this course,” Trump said in a phone interview. “This has absolutely nothing to do with Trump. This is a separate owner. We purely manage the golf course.”
Since announcing his decision to run for president, Donald Trump has campaigned on his wealth and success in business. Last month, he created controversy by describing immigrants who illegally cross the border from Mexico as mostly criminals.
The Puerto Rico resort, which opened in March 2004 as Coco Beach Golf, renamed itself in 2008 after licensing the use of Trump’s name. Trump, an avid golfer, is affiliated with 17 golf properties worldwide, according to his website. The golf division of Trump Organization Inc. owns and manages most of the courses.
The golf club features two 18-hole championship courses in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, which were designed by professional golfer Tom Kite. The 1,000-acre property has a 46,000-square-foot clubhouse. It hosted the 2008 Puerto Rico Open, according to the Trump website.
The company said it plans to sell substantially all its assets, blaming an inability to raise sufficient income coupled with a reduction in cash.
“Prior to commencing this bankruptcy proceeding, the debtor began experiencing a substantial diminution in its cash flow due to Puerto Rico’s adverse economic situation, which has impacted the tourism sector of the island,” the company said in court papers.
Coco Beach is seeking permission to sell its assets to OHorizons Global LLC, subject to higher or better offers. If a judge approves OHorizons as the so-called stalking horse, its offer of about $2 million would be the opening bid at a court-supervised auction.
The petition filed Monday by Coco Beach Golf & Country Club S.E. in bankruptcy court in San Juan listed assets of $9.2 million and debt of as much $78 million.
The Puerto Rico Industrial, Tourist, Educational, Medical and Environmental Control Facilities Financing Authority issued $26.4 million of municipal debt four years ago to refinance debt from 2000 and 2004 that helped pay for club’s construction, according to offering documents from the deal.
The bonds for the golf course were rated investment grade by Standard & Poor’s until February 2014, when a series of downgrades into junk status began. They cut last month to CCC-, the fourth-lowest rank.
Some golf-course bonds maturing in 2022 traded Monday for the first time since October 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg show. About $300,000 of debt changed hands at an average of 42.4 cents on the dollar, according to the data.
Puerto Rico itself has been staggering under heavy debt. The island of 3.5 million racked up the highest debt per capita in the U.S. as the commonwealth and its agencies borrowed for years to fix budget deficits as its economy shrank almost every year since 2006. Officials are now seeking to restructure the island’s $72 billion debt load.
Puerto Rico Tourism Development Fund is the golf club’s largest creditor, with a claim of $32.6 million, according to court documents. The fund issued a stand-by letter of credit to secure payment of principal and interest on the bonds. On June 29, the trustee for the golf course bonds drew $1.13 million from the credit line to replenish its debt service reserve account, according to a disclosure filing.
Coco Beach Golf & Country Club has defaulted on its loan agreement since at least 2011, according to disclosure filings with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. Coco Beach Development Corp. owns a 90 percent share of Coco Beach Golf & Country Club, according to court papers.
The bonds are also backed by payments from the Coco Beach entity and further secured by a mortgage on the property. None of the borrowers, including club manager Trump Golf Coco Beach LLC, are liable for repaying bondholders, according to offering documents.
The golf course has also been in default of its obligations to Trump, Eric Trump said.
The case is In re Coco Beach Golf & Country Club S.E., 15-05312, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Puerto Rico, (Old San Juan).