Icahn Aide: Taj Mahal Has to Close if Union Pact Remains - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Icahn Aide: Taj Mahal Has to Close if Union Pact Remains

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 WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A lawyer for billionaire Carl Icahn says Atlantic City's Trump Taj Mahal casino will have to shut down if a bankruptcy court judge doesn't let the business out of its union contract.

Alan Brilliant told the judge Tuesday in Delaware that Trump Entertainment Resorts needs the financial relief that breaking the union contract would provide. As Judge Kevin Gross was deciding whether to issue his ruling, Brilliant said if it went against Trump Entertainment, the business cannot survive.

William Hardie, a financial adviser to Trump Entertainment Resorts, testified Tuesday at the company's bankruptcy hearing that it wants $175 million in aid. It would take the form of tax exemptions - formally known as payments in lieu of taxes - and the receipt of two types of state economic development grants not normally available to casinos: the Economic Redevelopment Grant and the Urban Revitalization Grant.

New Jersey legislators would have to vote on whether to let casinos participate in the plans. Last week, State Senate President Steve Sweeney ruled out state financial aid for the Taj Mahal until its main lender, billionaire Carl Icahn, treats his employees better.

Sweeney and others held a news conference to decry Icahn's role in Atlantic City, saying he seeks to profit from the vulnerability of people making $12.50 an hour. Icahn rejects the criticism and says he's willing to help keep the casino afloat. 

The company says it will close the Taj Mahal on Nov. 13 without union givebacks and substantial governmental aid from Atlantic City and New Jersey - both of whom have rejected the demands. The union has said it is willing to move all the casinos out of the National Retirement Fund and into a new, unspecified pension program, whose details remained sketchy.
  
Icahn, who owns the Taj Mahal's $286 million in debt, would swap that debt for ownership of the casino, and invest $100 million into it.

But that investment is contingent on massive government aid from Atlantic City and the state.

If the judge rules against Trump Entertainment on Tuesday, the company is expected to quickly announce it will close the Taj Mahal. It was supposed to let the state Division of Gaming Enforcement know by Monday whether it is going to close the casino, but received an extension until Monday to see how the judge would rule.

About 3,000 employees would lose their jobs if the Taj Mahal closes, bringing the total so far this year to 11,000 newly unemployed Atlantic City casino workers.
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