No talking to Trump: Avenue Capital’s Lasry

President Donald Trump and the fate of his administration emerged as the overriding topic at Youth Inc’s 10th annual “State of the Market” conference.

People outside the U.S. are surprised by “what is going on” in the country, said Marc Lasry, co-founder of Avenue Capital. Lasry, who spoke on the panel “President Trump’s Impact on the Economy and Markets,” said he is always asked “how long Trump will remain president.”

Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital, had been slated to speak on the panel but pulled out due to a meeting. Scaramucci had sold his firm to join the Trump administration. He is expected to be named ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentpress reports say.

Lasry predicted that “people’s patience” with what is “going on in D.C.” will run out by the end of the summer. Asked if he has any advice for Trump, Lasry said: “It makes no difference what I say.”

Lasry recalled Trump’s hard-line tactics when one of his companies, Trump Entertainment Resorts, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

Avenue Capital, a distressed investor with $10.2 billion in assets under management, was Trump Entertainment’s largest bondholder. Lasry said he tried to negotiate with Trump about their stakes once Trump Entertainment emerged from Chapter 11. “I told [Trump] I would give him 5 percent of the equity,” Lasry said.

Avenue Capital held the senior secured debt while Trump had the equity. (In a bankruptcy, senior secured debt is paid before the other creditors, including the equity holders.)

“Donald said ‘No, I want 50 percent,’” Lasry said. They continued negotiating, with Trump insisting that he get “half the equity or nothing.”

Discussions continued with Lasry and Trump having lunch every six weeks. Trump refused to back down and, after months of back-and-forth, he said to Lasry: “I want half the equity.”

The negotiations had little effect. Trump Entertainment did end up exiting bankruptcy, for the third time, in 2010, Reuters reported. Trump had 5 percent equity, Lasry said. “You got to respect it,” Lasry said of Trump’s tactics.

Michael Bloomberg, CEO of the financial-information firm Bloomberg LP and former mayor of New York City, said during the conference that he hasn’t heard from Trump. The 45th president last week said that the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which spurred Bloomberg to say he would help foot the $15 million bill for the accord, CNN reported.

David Rubenstein, Carlyle Group co-CEO and co-founder, asked Bloomberg during a luncheon keynote whether Trump had thanked him for Paris. “I have not had one conversation with him,” Bloomberg said. 

Rubenstein quizzed Bloomberg on whether he knows Trump. Bloomberg said he had dinner with him once 20 years ago, played golf with him and has “cut ribbons” with Trump. 

Bloomberg has tried to counsel Trump. Bloomberg said he has advised Trump to focus on building his team, which the 45th president has not done. “You need people who have experience with these jobs. You don’t come from this world,” Bloomberg said he told Trump. 

Ninio Fetalvo, assistant White House press secretary, referred questions to Trump Organization, which did not return calls for comment.

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Action Item: Contact Marc Lasry at +1 212-878-3500

President Donald Trump pauses as he announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, in the White House Rose Garden in Washington on June 1, 2017. Photo courtesy Reuters/Kevin Lamarque