Trump Lender Axos Sinks After Hindenburg Shorts Bank’s Stock

(Bloomberg) — Axos Financial Inc., which has lent to properties including former President Donald Trump’s flagship New York tower, plunged after Hindenburg Research said it was short the stock because of the bank’s exposure to problematic commercial real estate loans.

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Shares of the company shed 4.2% Tuesday, paring much of a loss that reached 16% intraday, after Hindenburg, the firm run by Nate Anderson, said the lender’s share price has an “aggressive” valuation compared to its peers. The slump left the stock at a seven-week low.

The allegations from Hindenburg’s report contained a “series of inaccuracies,” the bank said in a statement. Axos said its $5.2 billion commercial real estate specialty lending business works “almost exclusively” through fund relationships. This structure provides the lender “strong collateral protection in adverse market scenarios,” the company said.

Rising interest rates have fueled concern about commercial-property risks in the US, with one measure of values plunging 21% through April from a March 2022 peak. Axos reported more than $5.9 billion in commercial real estate loans at the end of March, with multifamily buildings and hotels its biggest commercial-property exposures, according to a company presentation.

While the Hindenburg report made no mention of Trump, Axos has ties to the billionaire, helping to refinance a Trump Tower loan and lending money for a Florida resort. Last month, Trump was found guilty in the first criminal trial of a former US president in the nation’s history.

Axos shares are now down nearly 8% year to date. Chief Executive Officer Greg Garrabrants said in February that fears of broader bank turmoil are overdone, and risks are already baked into the share prices of most lenders.

It’s not the first time that Axos has drawn attention. Edwin Dorsey’s the Bear Cave published a critical report in November, arguing risks for the firm weren’t being appreciated by the market.

–With assistance from Bre Bradham and Cristin Flanagan.

(Updates stock moves at market close, adds company response)

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