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Kentucky college loses $250 million gift from charitable trust

Students leave the Norton Center for the Arts on the Centre College campus in Danville, Kentucky October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan
Students leave the Norton Center for the Arts on the Centre College campus in Danville, Kentucky October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan

By Tim Ghianni

(Reuters) - One of the largest donations ever made to a U.S. college was withdrawn after the collapse of a financial deal involving a charitable trust, the college said on Monday.

Centre College, a liberal arts institution with 1,375 students in Danville, Kentucky, was expecting to receive $250 million from the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust.

The gift would have funded 40 scholarships annually beginning in 2014 at the school known for hosting vice presidential debates in 2000 and 2012.

"This is a disappointing day for Centre College and for the hundreds of students that will not benefit from this scholarship program," Centre College President John Roush said.

The trust is closely connected with Reynolds and Reynolds Co, a privately held firm in Dayton, Ohio, that develops software and services for automotive dealerships.

The trust's donation was dependent on a major corporate refinancing deal by Reynolds that would have resulted in a payout to shareholders, including the Brockman Trust, which owns a controlling interest in Reynolds, according to Moody's Investors Service.

The deal would have increased the company's debt by over $3.4 billion, according to Moody's, which downgraded the company.

"We were looking at a refinancing and part of that was a recapitalization and that's what we chose not to pursue at this time," said Reynolds spokesman Thomas Schwartz, who directed all questions about the donation to the trust. Reuters could not reach the trust for comment.

The college began to worry about the gift about a week ago, when the transaction was not moving forward at the pace that had been anticipated, said Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations. By Friday, the college learned the gift to Centre College was withdrawn.

The trust is named after A. Eugene Brockman, whose son, Robert Brockman, is chairman of Reynolds and attended Centre College.

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Tennessee; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Lisa Shumaker)

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