|By Suzette Parmley, The Philadelphia
InquirerMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 12, 2007 - Donald Trump, who last week proclaimed that he would run his casino empire himself, now plans to name a casino industry veteran to do the job.
The executive, Mark Juliano, is now the interim chief executive officer of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. His ascension to the permanent post comes as Trump's shares continue to slide after the celebrity deal-maker announced his plans to run the company.
Trump had said he would take the operational reins of Trump Entertainment after talks on its possible sale had broken off. Trump is expected to remain chairman of the company's board of directors.
"We're really happy with Mark and the job he's doing," Trump said yesterday while in California. "I like him. The board likes him. Everybody likes what he's doing."
Juliano, a former president of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from 2003 to 2005, was brought in with former Trump CEO James B. Perry in the summer of 2005 to help lead a turnaround of the company amid shrinking market share in Atlantic City. He was president of Caesars casino in Atlantic City from 1994 to 1999.
"I intend to stick through this whole process until it gets completed," Juliano said yesterday of the Trump casinos' overhaul. He said he had made it clear to board members and Trump that he wanted the top job -- a move that the board will have to vote on.
Trump shares closed yesterday at a new 52-week low: $10.05, down 43 cents or 4.1 percent, on the Nasdaq. A year ago, the stock traded at $18.75.
Shares of Trump Entertainment plummeted over the last several weeks as the company announced it was entertaining offers from privateequity firms for a possible buyout. Last month, Trump and the board forced out Perry for opposing a sale to a private-equity partnership led by former Trump Entertainment executive Dennis Gomes and New York real estate magnate Morris Bailey.
At his 61st birthday party at the Trump Taj Mahal on June 16, Trump announced Juliano's "big promotion" to acting CEO from chief operating officer.
Negotiations between Trump and the Gomes-Bailey partnership failed to produce a deal.
Trump was overseeing the construction of 75 luxury estates yesterday at one of his golf courses, Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, in Palas Verdes. The property fronts the Pacific Ocean for 21/2 miles. He was also waiting to hear whether NBC will pick up another season of his reality TV show, The Apprentice.
"I'm very busy and don't have a lot of time," he said. "Mark is there all the time."
The Perry-Juliano team over the last two years had brought mixed results. While the three Trump casinos have begun renovations and a $250 million tower was being added to the Taj Mahal, the casinos still lagged far behind their competitors.
A significant blow came in December, when Trump Entertainment was rejected for a casino license in Philadelphia, which industry experts said Trump needed to diversify his casino holdings beyond Atlantic City.
The instability of recent weeks caused further anxiety among shareholders.
Wall Street analysts praised Juliano as a talented executive who made a name for himself resurrecting one of the Las Vegas Strip's premiere properties -- Caesars Palace. He brought in name-brand restaurants and dramatically improved its table-games business.
"He's Caesars born and bred," said Larry Klatzkin, managing director of Jefferies & Co. Inc., of New York. "He's been No. 2 at Trump. If he can pull off the success he had at Caesars, he would do fine at Trump."
Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or email@example.com.
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