I thought the story of banker Andy Beal's battle against Donald Trump for control of the Trump Atlantic City casinos was pretty exciting before but it just got a hell of a lot more interesting. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who I most recently mentioned for his interest in the stalled Fontainebleau project, has stepped into the action. The NY Post reports that he made a deal to buy a majority of the outstanding first-lien bank debt from Beal, who holds $486 million in first-mortgage liens on the casinos. Icahn has thrown his lot in with Beal to try and revive the Trump casino empire which has filed for bankruptcy several times. This puts Icahn and Beal in direct opposition to Trump and his daughter Ivanka who have thrown their support behind a group of noteholders led by Marc Lasry, who hold roughly $1.25 billion in unsecured debt.
The Post article questions whether this is a personal batlle, after all, Trump and Beal were playing nicely together until November when Trump swung his approval over to Lasry's camp in return for a stake in their version of the restructured company. If, as the article, says Beal was feeling vulnerable to criticism that he lacked casino experience then he's got a very experienced ally in Icahn who has a history of buying bankrupt casinos (including the Stratosphere in Las Vegas) and selling them for big profits. For Trump, there's both pride and money at stake, and neither Icahn or Trump is accustomed to losing so this could be a business battle royale.