An article in Saturday's Business section misstated the relationship between Bankers Trust Co. and National Westminster Bank USA, a New York subsidiary of London-based National Westminster Bank PLC. The loans to Donald Trump help by National Westminster, which National Westminster said are "substantially" less than $200 million, were not purchased from Bankers Trust. (Published 8/21/90)

Donald J. Trump, still struggling to keep his real estate, airline and casino empire afloat, is hitting fresh snags as he nears final agreement with his bankers over a multimillion-dollar rescue plan.

The latest potential pitfall emerged yesterday afternoon when reports began circulating that one of his key lenders, National Westminster Bank of England, was threatening to back out of an agreement tentatively reached weeks ago by Trump's seven major bankers. National Westminster, which holds $200 million in loans to Trump, denied the reports, as did Trump and Bankers Trust Co., which sold the loans to the British bank.

"We've talked with {National Westminster} several times today on a variety of matters and have no reason to believe that they are considering withdrawing from the transaction," said Joseph A. Mangello Jr., executive vice president and chief credit officer of Bankers Trust. "We would be very surprised if they did."

But sources close to the major lenders insisted the British bank was suddenly balking at the rescue plan. Bankers have said that if any one of the seven major lenders backs out, the entire deal would unravel.

Under the rescue agreement, Trump's major lenders -- a group that includes Citicorp, Chase Manhattan Corp. and Manufacturers Hanover Corp. -- would lend Trump $65 million on top of the $2 billion he already owes them. The new loans, coupled with a suspension of interest payments on half of the old debt, would be used to help Trump prop up his sagging portfolio of properties.

Reports that National Westminster might be wavering came hours after New Jersey's Casino Control Commission decided it would postpone until Tuesday a vote on whether to approve Trump's financial restructuring plan.

Acting casino commission chairwoman Valerie Armstrong said the panel needed more time to review the more than 2,500 pages of documents detailing the $65 million emergency package agreed to in June.

The delay in the vote in turn delayed a formal agreement among the bankers, who had planned to sign documents cementing the Trump rescue plan over the weekend. The bankers and Trump yesterday said they will probably go ahead and sign the papers, even though the plan legally will not take effect without the commission's approval.

The commission's approval is necessary because it must authorize any new owners of a casino. The banks could conceivably become new casino owners since Trump has agreed to pledge his three Atlantic City casinos as collateral for the new loans.

As part of their presentation to the New Jersey gaming commission, Trump's army of advisers submitted a report prepared by the accounting firm of Kenneth Leventhal & Co. The document confirms publicly what Trump's bankers have admitted privately for some time: Trump probably owes more than he is worth -- perhaps $295 million more, according to a worst-case scenario offered by Leventhal.

The report also includes Trump's own estimate of his worth, which by his reckoning comes to $1.4 billion. But with Trump's bankers and advisers on record as viewing his financial value at less than zero, the report underscores the gamble lenders are making in extending Trump new funds.

The biggest obstacle to Trump's financial salvation is neither the banks nor the gaming commission, but a slumping economy and doggedly sluggish gambling industry.

The Trump Castle casino lost $8.4 million in the first three months of 1990, according to the New Jersey commission, and the Trump Plaza casino lost $3.7 million in the first three months of 1990, a commission spokesman said. She said it is too early to predict the success of the Taj Mahal Casino Resort, which Trump opened in April amid much fanfare.

The rescue package settles for the time being how Trump will handle the $2 billion he owes his bankers. Still undecided, however, is what will happen to $1 billion in bonds held by investors in his casinos.

Trump, who became uncharacteristically quiet when his troubles first surfaced last spring, seemed to be back to his old self yesterday, dismissing the setbacks as minor and temporary and expressing optimism that the commission would vote in his favor, the rescue package would kick in and his empire would weather the economic downturn spreading down the East Coast.

"People became eternal optimists," Trump said, in explaining the climate of the 1980s, when he fell into trouble. "That's the nature of a developer."

Now, Trump said he is more realistic. "I think things in the economy will stay bad for a while," he said. "I think interest rates are too high and credit is too high. As far as the Trump organization goes, we'll survive and come out stronger than ever before."