Icahn to Sell Trump Taj Mahal to Group Led by Hard Rock

Industries Dow Jones Newswires

(Reuters)

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is selling the former Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., to focus on the Tropicana, another iconic property on the strip that Mr. Icahn acquired much the same way: buying its debt on the cheap and eventually taking it over. 

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"After considerable analysis and deliberation we determined that we only wanted to own one operating casino property in Atlantic City," Mr. Icahn said Wednesday in announcing the sale to a group led by Hard Rock International Inc. 

The sale price wasn't disclosed, but Hard Rock said the buyers plan to invest more than $300 million to buy, renovate and reopen the casino. The investors say the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, as it will be known, will bring about 3,000 jobs to the battered New Jersey city. 

Mr. Icahn's Icahn Enterprises LP is also trying to sell the former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. 

The Trump Plaza closed in 2014 and had also been part of Trump Entertainment Resorts, at one point part of now-President Donald Trump's casino group. Mr. Trump hadn't been involved in management of the gambling company for years and unsuccessfully sued to have the Trump name removed from the battered casinos. 

Mr. Icahn, currently a special adviser to Mr. Trump on regulatory issues, is a well-known figure on the city's boardwalk and gaming-table scene having previously owned the Sands hotel and casino, which he sold in 2006 to Pinnacle Entertainment. 

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The Taj Mahal had no remaining financial ties to Mr. Trump, even as it continues to use the Trump name. Mr. Icahn took over the casino last year, and after locking horns with a union representing Taj Mahal workers, shut down the casino and hotel operations in October. The Hard Rock Cafe at the location remained open. 

Atlantic City emerged as a resort town on the booming "Jersey Shore" and, after New Jersey legalized casinos in 1976, it became the gambling mecca on the East Coast. 

The state has taken over the city's finances, having averted a bankruptcy filing last year as it grapples with the closing of the once lucrative casinos that had fuelled its economy. 

Hard Rock's partners are the Morris family, led by Edgewood Properties Chief Executive Jack Morris, and the Jingoli family, led by Joseph R. Jingoli Jr. and Michael D. Jingoli, whose businesses include Jingoli Construction. 

--Peg Brickley contributed to this article 

Write to Maria Armental at maria.armental@wsj.com