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Former President Trump’s bond reduced to $175M


Former President Trump’s bond reduced to $175M

01:46

Former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social began trading under the ticker “DJT” on Tuesday, putting the real estate tycoon — and his initials — at the helm of a publicly traded company once again. 

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group soared in early morning trading on the Nasdaq exchange, rising more than $25, or roughly 50%, to $75.21 per share. Trump, who owns 58% of the newly public company, now has a stake valued at $5.4 billion — at least on paper. 

Trump Media & Technology Group, whose main asset is the social media service Truth Social, has captured the attention of both critics and supporters, with some of the latter buying stock in the company to express their support for the former president. Truth Social booked just $3.3 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2023 and is losing money, according to regulatory filings.

“DJT has all the makings of a meme stock, given the Trump news factor,” noted Ben Emons, senior portfolio manager and head of fixed income at NewEdge Wealth LLC, in a Tuesday research note. “For global macro investors, DJT will be a proxy for how markets price Trump 2.0 policies.”

Trump Media & Technology Group said in a statement Monday that the ticker symbol would be active on Tuesday following its merger with a so-called blank-check company, also known as a special purchase acquisition company (SPAC). SPACs are shell companies created to take a private business public without going through an initial public offering.

In the case of Trump’s media business, the shareholders of the SPAC, called Digital World Acquisition Corp., voted Friday in favor of the merger, ushering in the next step of taking the new Truth Social company public without an IPO. The merged company officially changed its name to Trump Media & Technology Group after the deal was completed on Monday, the statement said. 

The eponymous symbol “is so on brand” for Trump, noted Kristi Marvin, chief executive of SPACInsider.com, a service that provides news and data about the SPAC industry.

Ahead of the debut of the new DJT ticker, shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. soared $13.01, or 35%, to $49.95 on Monday.

Trump: Will he sell DJT shares?

Trump Media & Technology Group’s multibillion valuation provides Trump with access to liquidity at a time when he’s increasingly under financial pressure from a string of lawsuits. On Monday, he got a major break when an appeals court reduced a $464 million civil fraud judgment to $175 million, yet he still faces mounting legal bills related to other cases.

Trump could sell some of DJT stock to help pay for his legal bills, although the company currently has a “lock up” period, effectively barring its executives from selling shares for six months.

However, the company’s board — comprised of Trump associates such as Kash Patel, an official during the Trump administration; and son, Donald Trump Jr. — could waive or shorten the lock-up period, experts said.

But there’s a risk if Trump sells his stock, Emons noted. Because he owns a sizable chunk of the company, selling his shares could undermine its trading stability. For instance, “If he goes ahead [with selling], it could sink DJT by at least 15% to 40% based on option pricing,” Emons calculated.

Truth Social: Losing money

To be sure, plenty of tech companies have gone public while in the red, yet typically investors want to see that a business can grow its user base and ramp up sales quickly by appealing to a broad range of advertisers. 

Truth Social, which doesn’t release its user numbers, had roughly 5 million active members in February, according to research firm Similarweb estimates. 

By comparison, Reddit, which went public last week, had about 73.1 million daily active users last year, while revenue jumped 21% to $804 million in 2023, it reported last month ahead of the IPO filing.

Previous DJT ticker: From IPO to penny stock

It’s also not the first time that Trump has overseen a publicly traded company with the ticker DJT. 

The previous iteration of the DJT ticker occurred in 1995, when Trump took his Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts public in an IPO. The idea was to raise money in the public markets that would help Trump expand his casino businesses, according to the New York Times’ account of the IPO. 

The shares initially performed well, increasing from its IPO price of $14 to a high of $35 a share soon after. But the stock plunged over the next few years, eventually trading for pennies, according to the Washington Post. 

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004. 

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