The Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami, Florida, the US. Picture: AFP/MICHELE EVE SANDBERG
The Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami, Florida, the US. Picture: AFP/MICHELE EVE SANDBERG

Los Angeles/Frankfurt — The family business of US President Donald Trump is in informal discussions with Deutsche Bank about delaying some loan payments as the coronavirus forces widespread disruptions to the economy, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Trump Organisation representatives reached out to the Deutsche Bank’s private banking unit in New York late last month and the talks are ongoing, according to the New York Times, which reported the negotiations earlier. Deutsche Bank is having similar discussions with other commercial real estate companies in the US, said another person, also asking not to be identified discussing private matters.

A Deutsche Bank spokesperson declined to comment. A Trump Organisation spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has forced borrowers and lenders across the globe to discuss ways to honour debts while acknowledging the enormous pressure on company bottom lines. But the request from the Trump Organisation is especially delicate after Deutsche Bank decided to keep Trump’s business dealings at arms length when he took office.

Washington hotel

Deutsche Bank’s loans to Trump have included money for a Florida golf resort, a Washington DC hotel and a Chicago tower. Two of the properties are being hit by the pandemic, the New York Times said. The Doral golf resort near Miami has stopped all operations, while the Washington hotel closed its restaurant and bar, according to the newspaper.

A process to sell the hotel lease has been halted amid a collapse in the commercial real estate market, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Analysts have flagged commercial real estate as a particularly vulnerable part of the economy as malls and hotels across the country have had to close. But while other companies hit by the crisis may be able to tap into a $500bn rescue fund, the president and his family are barred from accessing that money, the New York Times said.

For Deutsche Bank, the issue is further complicated because the loans, which were negotiated between 2012 and 2015, include a personal guarantee from Trump. That would put the German lender in the position of potentially having to collect from a sitting president in case of a default, Bloomberg has reported.

The Trump Organisation has also spoken with Palm Beach County in Florida about lease payments for a golf course the company runs, the New York Times said. The group has largely closed its golf clubs in Florida and New Jersey, and had to temporarily shut a hotel in Las Vegas, according to the paper.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the outbreak is costing Trump Organisation properties more than $1m a day in revenue.

The relationship between Germany’s largest lender and Trump has been under scrutiny ever since the former real estate tycoon emerged as a front-runner for the US presidency four years ago. Democrats in Congress have been seeking to subpoena documents on his dealings with the bank to shine a light on his business performance and practices before his election.

In late 2016, Deutsche Bank’s leaders were so concerned about the potential public relations impact if the Trump Organisation were to default that they discussed extending repayment dates until after the end of a potential second term in 2025, Bloomberg has reported. They ultimately decided against the idea and just chose not to engage in any new business with Trump while he’s in office.

Bloomberg