Can the Indian realty sector attract foreign investment to India? American entrepreneur Donald Trump thinks so and perhaps he is right. In the last ten years since the real estate market was opened up for 100% FDI investment in 2005, foreign investors have faced a plethora of issues ranging from multiple regulatory approvals resulting in delay in completion of projects to ambiguous land use change policy to lackadaisical infrastructural development among various other things.
So when HT Estates spoke to Donald Trump about his interest in real estate in India, he made no bones about his desire to launch a project in the country as “It’s one of the places that’s very high on my list.” The problem, however, that he was quick to point out, was that “India has not been that open a country. I hope it opens up for investment. I will look forward to that.”
Trump is hopeful that things may change as, according to him, newly-elected Narendra Modi looks like he cares for his own people. “A lot of people care about themselves but he (Modi) looks like somebody who cares about the country and not himself. And that’s a tremendous thing. I think he is going to be a great leader. I don’t know him and I never met him but I only give my first impression that he really looks terrific.”
Trump talked to HT Estates at length in Dubai where he came with daughter Ivanka Trump to oversee the progress of the much-talked about luxury project Akoya Park in which he has collaborated with Dubai-based Damac properties to construct The Trump International Golf Course and 104 exclusive Trump Estates villas and mansions.
Akoya Park is spread over 400,000 square metres and it offers a variety of ultra-luxury residential options with facilities such as an 18-hole championship golf course, training academy with hi-tech equipment, Trump branded and managed clubhouse, four international standard tennis courts among various other things.
As far as Trump’s India story is concerned, till now he has only licensed his brand for a hefty fee to two Indian real estate developers – the Lodha Group and Panchshil Realty which are constructing Trump Towers in Mumbai and Pune, respectively. His earlier attempts to sell his brand to Indian developers failed due to regulatory hurdles.
Asked if he wants to make an actual investment in India, Trump says, “It’s very hard to buy land in India. There are things that make India very difficult as a place to invest and do things.”
However, he says that he is looking for something in particular in India that he doesn’t want to disclose just yet, “because whenever I reveal details of any deal, everybody goes there and then it becomes a crowded market and then it takes the deal away from me. So I like to talk about the work that is done. But yes, we have some serious things in mind.”
So is there any real estate company he wants to tie up with in India? He answers, “I won’t mention their names right now but we have some great friends in India who we want to do business with.”
Asked if the brand name Trump is the biggest pull for Indian investors in Dubai and anywhere else, he answers in the affirmative, saying, “I have a great relationship with people from India. I have many people living in Trump Towers and Trump International Hotels. They know that with brand comes best location, best job and best quality. I won’t put my brand if I don’t get the best location. We are very careful about what we do because you can destroy a brand very quickly if you don’t do the right thing.”