Financial wizard tries to untangle Trump empire

April 28, 1991|By New York Times News Service

Stephen F. Bollenbach is a man who has spent much of his career untangling the financial problems of famous men.

Mr. Bollenbach's latest task is to save something from the wobbly empire of Donald J. Trump. Last year, Mr. Bollenbach was brought in by the developer after Mr. Trump's creditors insisted that he hire a chief financial officer, a position that had never existed at the Trump Organization.

Mr. Bollenbach has helped plot the less-than-enviable strategy of jettisoning some of the developer's big assets.

Last week, tentative agreements were reported under which properties like the Trump Shuttle would go while the casinos would stay.

Mr. Bollenbach, a soft-spoken man with a relaxed style, is widely regarded as one of the best chief financial officers in the country.

At 47, he is well-accustomed to taking on unusual projects on a grand scale. In the late 60s, Daniel K. Ludwig, the American billionaire, tapped Mr. Bollenbach as a young financial wizard and used him to build an empire of savings and loans.

Mr. Bollenbach joined Bethesda-based Marriott Corp. as treasurer in the early 80s. As it happened, one of his first tasks there was to repel a nascent takeover attempt by Mr. Trump.

By 1986, Mr. Bollenbach had joined the Holiday Corp., where he engineered an enormously successful sale of the Holiday Inns chain to Bass PLC, a British beer brewing company, for $2 billion.

That deal made a fortune for Holiday shareholders and insiders, including Mr. Bollenbach.

But for Mr. Trump, his troubles are far from over. As a series of interest payments come due in the next six months, Mr. Bollenbach will be pressed to continue his financial alchemy.

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