Last week, The Economic Times reported that Donald Trump met with some of his Indian business partners at The Trump Tower in New York. India is the Trump Organization's second-largest market outside of North America, and it recently finalized five commercial and residential projects in the country, according to Kalpesh Mehta of Tribeca Developers, the company's India representative. The firm's official website lists nine international properties and two of these are in the Pune and Mumbai, two relatively affluent cities in western India.
In July, Donald Trump Jr. told The Hindustan Times that the company is very "bullish" on India and that it plans to build a pan-India development footprint for Trump branded projects. He said, "We have a very aggressive pipeline in the north and east and look forward to the announcement of several exciting new projects in the months ahead."
Trump's real estate firm invests no money in the country but charges royalty for having its brand associated with the buildings. Since he recently was elected to become the president of the United States, one can expect the Trump brand to command more value than ever before. News outlets have already speculated about how Trump's foreign business interests pose a conflict of interest.
So which members of India's real estate industry currently have the most valuable business connection in the world ?
Panchsil Realty, Pune
Present at last week's meeting with Trump were Atul Chordia and Sagar Chordia, founders of Panchshil Realty.
In 2014, Trump signed a brand-licensing deal with the Chordia brothers, whose company is behind several luxury developments in the city, including two hotels with Marriott International, one with Hilton hotels and resorts and a Ritz Carlton. Sagar Chordia had told The Indian Express that he will be attending the inauguration ceremony in Washington next year.
The Chordias are closely associated with Indian politician Sharad Pawar and are regularly featured in the pages of local newspapers attending exclusive social events. Pawar is president of the Nationalist Congress Party and has been allegedly involved in land scams. His daughter, Supriya Sule, owns stake in Panchshil.
Trump Towers Pune is the first building with Trump's name on it in the country. The residential complex consisting of 46 single-floor apartments attracted the attention of bollywood celebrities and wealthy Indian businessmen. Negotiations about a second project in the city, 'Trump River Walk', are underway.
Lodha Group, Mumbai
The other firm Trump signed a deal with during his visit in 2014 was the Lodha Group. Its founder is a member of the state government and serves as vice president of India's ruling party BJP's state operations. The 75-storey residential project in Mumbai's posh Worli neighborhood is set to be completed in 2018. Trump has said Trump Tower Mumbai will be "a jewel not just in the city's skyline, but in the Trump crown."
M3M India, Gurgaon
A growing metropolis close to India's capital city New Delhi will soon have a Trump residential complex as well. M3M's official website says the company is behind projects that are meant to resemble those in California, Manhattan and Singapore. In 2011, the firm was raided by income tax authorities who discovered 314 million rupees in unaccounted income, according to The Hindustan Times. Its chairman, real estate tycoon Basant Bansal, reportedly spent $1 billion on his daughter's wedding the same year.
In April, a statement released by The Trump Organization and private real estate equity firm IREO said that the latter will be building an office tower bearing Trump's name and designed by Foster + Partners, the same architects behind Apple's Cupertino campus, in Gurgaon. In 2010, income tax officials raided IREO offices as they suspected the firm was used to rout illegal earnings of BJP party leader Sudhanshu Mittal, brother-in-law to IREO's Managing Director Lalit Goyal. No charges were filed.
Another Trump Tower is set to go up in the eastern city of Kolkata, reported Mint newspaper three days ago. The project will be competed by Unimark Group. Chairman and Director Harsh Vardhan Patodia is a leading developer in the city and vice president of CREDAI, a trade association representing 9,000 developers in the country. The company has a project portfolio of over 15 million square feet.