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The Liar's Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons by Vicky Ward

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Chapter 9 Donald's “Force Majeure”

Pardon me if I get a little emotional. It's very upsetting. I've never worked this hard in my life.

—Donald Trump

In March 2001, Gary Wendt told Donald Trump he could exercise a buy/sell agreement that had been put in place by Trump and Steve Hilbert as co-owners of the GM Building. Wendt was so anxious to get rid of the building and give something, anything, back to Conseco's angry creditors that he offered Trump a remarkable deal: he could buy the GM Building for $995 million, which meant Trump had to find $295 million, the surplus to the Lehman Brothers debt of $700 million.

He could even borrow this money from Conseco! Conseco agreed to accept an up-front payment of $50 million at closing with the rest in two notes, one for $250 million (the primary loan) at the annual interest rate of 6.5 percent and the secondary loan for $45 million at 4 percent. The primary loan of $250 million had to be guaranteed by a letter of credit from Trump's bankers at Deutsche Bank. Conseco just wanted to be certain that the deal would close.

Andrew Hubregsen, Conseco's senior vice president, drafted and signed an agreement in March in which Conseco asked to close by June 30.

Trump had clearly stated he wanted the building. But the closing date came and went and still there was no agreement, much to the consternation of Hubregsen and Wendt. Though Trump's office regularly talked to Hubregsen, lawyers for Conseco and Deutsche Bank seemed unable to reach each ...

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