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Trump's name brandishes South Korea's high-rise buildings

All Headlines 09:44 May 11, 2016

SEOUL, May 11 (Yonhap) -- Presumptive U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump has his real estate footprints in South Korea as well, having lent his name to a construction company from the late 1990s to use on high-rise residential buildings in what was his first such arrangement with a foreign firm.

Daewoo Engineering & Construction (Daewoo E&C), then a builder unit of the larger Daewoo Group, first partnered with Trump in September 1997 to erect the Trump World Tower in Manhattan, close to the U.N. headquarters in New York. The real estate mogul provided the lot for the South Korean company to build a top-luxury condominium with 376 residential units, two underground and 70 above-ground floors.

The US$ 240 million project turned out to be a success for both Daewoo and Trump when completed in October 2001, the units being easily sold to give profits to both parties.

While building the Manhattan structure, Daewoo in late 1997 was pursuing a high-rise residential building, a popular form of real estate at the time, in Yeouido, western Seoul. While trying to find ways to set itself apart from competitors and grab public attention, the company decided to act on a suggestion by one of its CEOs to use the existing connection with Trump. Daewoo's New York office chief proposed and negotiated a deal with Trump to use his name in the new building in return for a brand fee.

"The chief architect and the head of the New York office briefed Trump in person on the building design and service facilities and got the approval to use the Trump name," a former senior official of the South Korean company, who had been involved in advancing the project, said of how things had progressed. "The two parties were already in a joint business in New York, and the contract wasn't hard to reach."

The Trump World in Yeouido adopted many of the markings of the Trump World Tower of Manhattan. An entire floor was dedicated to shared facilities such as a fitness gym, a swimming pool, banquet halls and a library, while the entrance floor was designed to mimic a hotel lobby to guarantee privacy, a novel concept at the time. It also departed from the conventional practice of using only a steel frame, opting for reinforced concrete that fit better for residential units.

Daewoo continued the brand partnership to six more buildings throughout the country, amounting to $6 million-$7 million in payments to Trump as the brand fee, including $840,000 for the Yeouido condominium.

Trump visited South Korea twice at the invitation of Daewoo E&C -- in June 1998 and May 1999, the latter to promote the sale of the Yeouido units.

During the first visit, in his tour of a Daewoo shipyard, the U.S. businessman said he will order a destroyer to use as his private yacht. The remark never developed into an actual order.

In his second trip, he said he saw merits in South Korea's real estate market and wanted to engage in property development in the country. That remark also never developed into action.

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