American real estate mogul Donald Trump is considering investments in Tbilisi and the Georgian port city of Batumi, a senior executive at The Trump Organization told EurasiaNet.org.
Trump is in talks with the Silk Road Group, a real estate and transportation company with investments in Georgia and Central Asia, about development possibilities in the Georgian capital and along the country’s Black Sea coast.
Michael Cohen, an executive vice president at The Trump Organization, the private company that handles Trump’s property development and management projects, told EurasiaNet.org that he expects to travel to Tbilisi on June 22 to look at potential sites.
Neither Silk Road Group representatives nor Cohen would disclose details about the negotiations or potential sites for development.
The Silk Road Group approached Trump during President Mikheil Saakashvili’s April visit to the United States, said Giorgi Ramishvili, a founder of the company.
Similar overtures have been made to Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas-based casino-hotel tycoon. Wynn Enterprises did not respond to requests from EurasiaNet.org for comment.
Cohen confirmed that Trump met with Saakashvili for several hours in New York City and discussed Georgia’s business climate and reform process. Cohen described Trump as “very interested” in Georgia’s real estate market, among other potential investments.
Trump, best known for his reality television shows, posh golf resorts, and gravity-defying luxury hotels and office complexes, would be a catch for the Georgian government.
Georgia relies heavily on foreign investment to support its economy, yet such investments have decreased recently. Foreign direct investment was down to $75.5 million in the first quarter of 2010 – a decrease of more than 41 percent from the same period last year, according to official statistics.
A deal would also be a breakthrough for the Silk Road Group, which has been active in real estate development throughout the country. The company helped bring the Radisson chain to Tbilisi and recently opened an office in New York City as part of a bid to attract high-profile investors to Georgia.
Cohen stressed that doing business in the Caucasus is “nothing new” for Trump, who has investments “all over the world.” No investment in the former Soviet Union, however, has been finalized, he added.
A 40-floor office-residential-retail complex in Istanbul is the closest such project to Georgia, based on information posted on The Trump Organization’s website.
Molly Corso is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.