Donald J. Trump is considering real estate investments including casinos and golf courses in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, said Michael Cohen, executive vice president of the Trump Organization.
“I’m here to walk the land and smell the dirt,” Cohen said in an interview late yesterday in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. “My trip comes after Mr. Trump was impressed by President Mikheil Saakashvili’s visit to New York and the conversation they had about the future of Georgia. We’re looking for profit from Georgia.”
Cohen arrived in Georgia yesterday on a three-day fact- finding trip, and will visit the Adjara region on Georgia’s Black Sea coast tomorrow. He declined to elaborate on the scale of Trump’s possible investments in Georgia, saying only that the U.S. billionaire is “willing to invest if there’s something he likes.”
Saakashvili travelled to the U.S. in April and met with officials including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Georgian leader has stepped up efforts to revive foreign direct investment, which fell 51 percent in 2009 from a year earlier to $759 million as the global economic slump curtailed appetite for emerging markets.
The Georgian government last year turned to the Middle East in particular in search of investment. In October, Saakashvili said he had netted as much as $1 billion of investment from the United Arab Emirates within the next two to three years. A month later, a trip to Qatar yielded a pledge to “invest heavily” in Georgia.
Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co., part of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, has conducted a fact-finding trip, though the company hasn’t announced its investment plans.
“Maybe what’s stopping them is that they don’t have a brand,” Cohen said, adding that the Trump Organization faces no problems with name recognition. “With a name like Trump, with the money and the domestic brand group, it sounds like a winning proposition to me.”
Ivana Trump, an ex-wife of Trump, traveled to Georgia last December to meet with Saakashvili and consider investments in tourist resorts on the country’s Black Sea coast.
Cohen said his trip was unrelated to Ivana Trump’s visit.