Who is Monty Bennett, hotel mogul who received PPP loans?

  • A group of companies controlled by Monty Bennett received at least $58 million in loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, the most of any recipient. 
  • While some public companies have returned their PPP funds following backlash, Bennett’s companies have announced they would be keeping the money. 
  • “Without the PPP program, no other programs exist to help larger hotel ownership companies survive the crisis and bring their employees back to work. We believe it is just as important to bring employees back to work at larger companies like AHT and BHR as it is at smaller companies,” Bennett’s companies wrote in a statement posted to Ashford Hospitality Trust’s website on Saturday.
  • Here’s everything else we know.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Backlash has grown over the last week as news has broken that major public companies including Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House received and later returned millions of dollars under the Paycheck Protection Program. 

But the biggest overall recipient of funds under the program has been a group of hotel companies controlled by Monty Bennett, which together received at least $58 million in loans.

Monty Bennett is the chairman of and a major shareholder in Ashford Hospitality Trust, Braemar Hotels & Resorts, and Ashford Inc. Together, the companies applied for $126 million in loans under the PPP. Bennett is also CEO of Ashford Inc.

The three companies were able to apply for loans under a provision in the program that allows hospitality and restaurant companies with multiple locations to seek assistance as long as each location has fewer than 500 employees. 

Unlike some other public companies which have announced they would be returning their loans, the conglomerate said in a statement on Saturday that it planned to keep the bailout funds it had received. It said it had laid off or furloughed more than 90% of its workforce and closed approximately 32 of its 130 hotels. 

“We plan to keep all funds received under the PPP, which were provided as a result of the application process and other specific requirements established for our industry by Congress,” reads a statement posted to Ashford Hospitality Trust’s website Saturday afternoon. “Rules established by the Small Business Administration require companies like ours to determine by May 7 whether we still qualify for the PPP funds. Any funds for which we are determined to be not qualified will be returned according to the requirements of the program.”

Here’s everything we know:

Ashford Trust and Braemer own 130 hotels under more than 20 brands around the world.

St Thomas Ritz

The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas.

Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock


Ashford Hospitality Trust’s holdings include Marriotts …

marriott research triangle park

Marriott Research Triangle Park in Durham, North Carolina.

Marriott Research Triangle Park / Yelp


Source: Ashford Hospitality Trust

… Residence Inns …

residence inn by marriott las vegas hughes center

Residence Inn by Marriott Las Vegas Hughes Center.

Residence Inn by Marriott Las Vegas Hughes Center / Yelp


Source: Ashford Hospitality Trust

… and Embassy Suites hotels. Ashford Trust has designated 25 properties as lodging for first responders, healthcare workers, and others affected by the pandemic.

embassy suites nyc times square

Embassy Suites by Hilton New York Manhattan Times Square.

Embassy Suites by Hilton New York Manhattan Times Square / Yelp


Source: Ashford Hospitality Trust

Braemar’s portfolio, meanwhile, includes the Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe …

ritz carlton lake tahoe

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe.

The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe / Yelp


Source: Braemar Hotels & Resorts

… and the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.

park hyatt beaver creek

The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek / Yelp


Source: Braemar Hotels & Resorts

Bennett has reportedly given more than $1.1 million to Trump and the Republican Party since the 2016 election, according to Federal Election Commission records. He also reportedly hired a pair of Trump fundraisers as lobbyists as the coronavirus stimulus package was being negotiated.

donald trump steve mnuchin

President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.


Drew Angerer/Getty



Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

Bennett’s companies said they would not be returning the money they received under the PPP, even as backlash grew against public companies, like Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, that had similarly received loans while many small businesses that had applied did not receive them.

shake shack

Shake Shack.

John Locher/AP


Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris both returned their loans.

The PPP ran out of money on April 16, less than two weeks after it had launched. 

A Treasury Department spokesman told Business Insider’s Tom LoBianco last week that loans are reviewed by individual loan processors at banks. He added that the loans must be used to keep employees on payroll in order to be forgiven and pointed to comments made by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Fox Business that large companies which take advantage of the program “could be subject to investigation.”

Representatives for Bennett have not returned requests for comment. 

“Without the PPP program, no other programs exist to help larger hotel ownership companies survive the crisis and bring their employees back to work. We believe it is just as important to bring employees back to work at larger companies like AHT and BHR as it is at smaller companies,” Bennett’s companies wrote in a statement posted to Ashford Hospitality Trust’s website on Saturday.

monty bennett ashford

Monty Bennett.


Yahoo screenshot



It continued: “Media concerns over our receipt of PPP funds are misplaced. The PPP program was specifically designed to help companies like ours as part of the national objective of shoring up businesses and getting people back to work. We to intend to use the PPP funds to do our part.”

Bennett’s conglomerate received at least $58 million, the most any company has received from the small business bailout program. It said it had laid off or furloughed more than 90% of its workforce and closed approximately 32 of its 130 hotels.

pier house resort and spa key west

Pier House Resort & Spa in Key West, Florida.

Pier House Resort & Spa / Yelp


Source: Business Insider

More:

monty bennett
Retail
Hotels
PPP lending program

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By |2020-04-27T21:26:56+00:00April 27th, 2020|Business|0 Comments

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