ISTANBUL, April 20 (Reuters) - American property mogul Donald Trump declared Turkey an ideal investment destination and said on Friday he expected to collaborate more with the Turkish owners of the city’s Trump Towers.
“We will be back,” Trump told journalists a day after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan attended a ceremony to open the prestigious office and residential towers built by the Dogan family, one of Turkey’s most powerful business houses.
As a statement of intent, Trump said he planned to take an apartment in the complex, located in the Sisli business district, as he intended visiting frequently in future.
“Turkey is a perfect country for investment,” Trump said, sitting in a brand new Istanbul shopping mall also bearing his name. “I can say it will certainly be one of the countries we prioritize for investing in the coming period.”
The Dogan company Ortadogu Otomotive invested $400 million in Trump Towers and paid the Trump Organisation an undisclosed fee to use the brand name.
Next time, Trump envisages investing along with Dogan, whose conglomerate Dogan Holding has interests ranging through energy, retail, tourism and media.
“To be honest, most likely we would do it with them, because we have a great, great friendship and relationship with them,” Trump said, adding he expected to make that investment within two years.
According to data from the 2011 report of the Association of Real Estate Investment Companies (GYODER), foreign investors own or are partners in some 69 Turkish malls, with 2.4 million square metres of leasable space, helping feed Turkey’s consumer boom.
Trump, whose portfolio includes projects in South Korea and Panama, in addition to hotels and skyscrapers in the United States, said he would also consider entering Turkey with the Trump Hotel Collection.
Trump was also fulsome in his praise for Prime Minister Erdogan, who has overseen a period of unprecedented prosperity in Turkey since his AK Party came to power in 2002.
Turkey is one of several star emerging economies that boomed over the past decade. For all the turmoil in Europe and political upheaval in the Middle East, Turkey still expects to grow 4 percent this year, after 8.5 percent growth in 2011.
Blessed with a young population of 74 million people and a government that has embraced liberal economics while espousing social conservatism, the market is seen expanding rapidly.
Critical coverage of the AKP government by Dogan newspapers had put the group at odds with Erdogan earlier, but the presence of the prime minister at the opening of Trump Towers on Thursday was seen as a sign that those difficulties had been laid to rest.
Three years ago, the tax authorities hit Dogan Group companies with tax fines totalling $3.8 billion, but after multiple appeals the group whittled down the amount eventually paid. Meantime, its newspapers’ coverage of the government became noticeably less critical.
Foreign direct investments in Turkish real estate reached $578 million last year, up $166 million on the 2010 figure, according to a real estate sector association (GYODER).
The association expects FDI in the property sector to grow into billions of dollars once restrictions on property sales to foreigners are loosened.
The government is expected to pass a bill shortly that will allow foreigners to buy more land, up to 30 hectares instead of 2.5 hectares.
Turkish real estate stocks were up around 20 percent by April 19 compared with the start of the year.