| The Trump Tower in Las Vegas
Mumbai, Nov. 19: Donald Trump is coming to India.
The American real estate tycoon — famous for his eponymous skyscrapers and casinos, celebrity lifestyle, and the role of a tough-talking inquisitioner on the popular television reality serial The Apprentice — may build the first Trump Tower in Mumbai.
Donald Trump Jr — son of the flamboyant magnate — told reporters today that the Trumps were looking for business opportunities in India.
“Mumbai is very similar to New York; so it is the obvious first choice for us. We will also be looking at Delhi and Goa. Goa is ideal for luxury resorts,” said Trump Jr, the eldest of Trump’s five children.
Mumbai stands a better chance than Delhi of getting the first Trump-style luxury residential property. Trump Jr said he would not acquire existing or under-construction projects and would prefer joint ventures or leasing agreements with local partners.
Trump’s only known Indian connection till date is a casino named Taj Mahal which he bought and rebuilt using funds that he raised through high-interest junk bonds. The risky financing almost made him bankrupt: Taj Mahal emerged from bankruptcy and Trump was forced to cede half the stake to the original bondholders.
Last year, Forbes estimated Trump’s personal wealth at almost $3 billion. The Trumps are looking to invest in India in the next 12-18 months and are close to sealing a deal.
“We are weighing our options; we could take the joint venture route or the licensing route to enter the Indian market,” Trump Jr said on the sidelines of a real estate seminar.
“We will be looking at high-end residential development, condominium-type development, the ultra-luxury segment, hotels and resort development.We don’t have a partner in India but we are speaking to people.”
Trump Jr, who said Indian property prices were not as high as those in the rest of the world, said the group was interested in projects in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
The family will not be looking at investing in anything less than 250,000 square feet of development.
But there are a few niggling problems. “There is a need to change foreign ownership laws in the country. If more and more foreigners are allowed to own properties in the country, it will encourage more dollar inflows. One of the biggest challenges that the country faces right now, however, is the surge in oil prices,” he said.
The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are, however, deeply concerned about huge dollar inflows with India’s foreign exchange reserves having crossed $270 billion. Banks have also been discouraged from lending to real estate developers, forcing many of them to raise money abroad.
“Infrastructure is another cause for concern. China has an incredible rail system. In India, there is growth, but infrastructure is lagging behind,” Trump Jr added.