May 27, 2016 / 5:17 PM / 4 years ago

Trump tower in Canada close to sale, future of name in question

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto’s Trump tower is close to being sold, a lawyer for its owner said on Friday, adding that the buyer could choose to drop the name, which has become more controversial since billionaire Donald Trump became the presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee.

The top of the 65-storey Trump International Hotel & Tower is seen in Toronto August 31, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

The Trump organization disagreed, saying the building must continue to carry the name.

Symon Zucker, who represents Talon International Development Inc, said the 65-story hotel and condominium tower in the city’s financial district has found a potential buyer and the sale will conclude “hopefully shortly.”

The building is operated for Talon by the Trump Hotel Collection, presided over by Trump and his children.

Zucker said the current contract with Trump Hotel is “exclusive with Talon” and that “the new owner can if he wishes retain a different manager and change the name of the hotel.”

Zucker declined to comment on the potential new owner’s intentions or the specifics of the deal.

Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten disagreed, saying the agreement is valid for “another 16 years” and calling Zucker’s view “100 percent false.”

“The management’s agreement between Trump and the condos would remain in full force and effect,” he said in an email. “We are not going anywhere.”

Garten said if the new owner wants to change the name of the tower, the Trump Organization would take “swift and appropriate action to prevent it and hold them liable for damages.”

Talon Chairman Alex Shnaider has been trying to change the building’s name through arbitration, though the sale is unrelated to that effort, said Zucker, who called the sale a routine business decision.

“Alex is moving on to other deals,” he said. “This is just one more thing he’s bought that he’s going to sell.”

Zucker said the deal was done through the real estate firm CBRE, which declined to comment.

The luxury building has had problems, and the intersection around it has been closed several times due to falling or unstable glass. The tower is also the subject of a Canadian lawsuit against Trump and associates by disgruntled investors who say they were misled in their deals.

A judge ruled against the investors, and a Toronto court is scheduled to hear their appeal in June. Zucker called their case “frivolous.”

With additional reporting by Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Editing by Dan Grebler and David Gregorio

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