|By Amy Driscoll, The Miami
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 30, 2008 - Developer Donald Trump will sell an Atlantic City casino to one-time associate Richard Fields for $316 million in an agreement announced Thursday that will also end a bitter Broward County lawsuit stemming from the development of the Seminole Hard Rock casinos.
"My client wanted to buy it. Mr. Trump wanted to sell it. . . . Sometimes the settlement of litigation is done by entering into a good business deal," said attorney Michael Moskowitz, who represents Fields in the 2004 suit.
Trump attorney Herman Russomanno also said both parties are "delighted" by the agreement.
The purchase by Coastal Marina of the Trump Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, currently owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts, is expected to be complete by late 2008, Moskowitz said.
If the sale goes through, the suit will be dropped.
Trump sued Fields four years ago contending that Fields cheated him out of a deal with the Seminole Tribe to develop the Hard Rock casinos near Hollywood and Tampa.
Trump hired Fields in the mid 1990s to help him pursue a development agreement with the tribe. The suit alleges that Fields ended his work for Trump but kept working on the Seminole deal with Baltimore-based The Cordish Company while letting the Seminoles think Trump remained involved.
Cordish, along with affiliate Power Plant Entertainment and the tribe, eventually built the Hard Rock casinos and hotels, which have been highly successful.
A ruling last month by Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld knocked out four of six counts in Trump's suit. The case had been scheduled for trial this summer.
One analyst questioned the sale price, saying it was too high.
"Any way you slice it, Coastal Marina has over-paid for the Trump Marina," Morgan Joseph & Co. analyst Justin Sebastiano wrote in a note to investors Thursday, according to The Associated Press.
But Coastal Marina spokesman Charlie Leonard disagreed.
"We think we're paying a very fair price," he said, noting that some analysts might overlook the "underlying real estate, infrastructure and redevelopment value" of the casino located in Atlantic City's marina district.
After the purchase, the Atlantic City casino, the lowest performer among Trump's three casinos in that city, will be renamed Margaritaville in association with singer Jimmy Buffett's brand. Margaritaville Holdings also has a casino project with Harrah's Entertainment in Biloxi, Miss.
"They are buying a wonderful building in a great location," Trump said in a statement Thursday about the Atlantic City deal.
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