A look at Trump's business associates across Asia
By The Associated Press
Nov. 12, 2017
President Donald Trump has temporarily put his sons in charge of his company, but the Trump Organization still does business abroad. That has prompted questions about whether that might influence Trump's official decisions.
A look at some of his business partners and contacts in Asia, where he is winding down a five-nation trip:
Trump's partner in a Philippines venture, Jose E.B. Antonio, was named a "special envoy" to the U.S. by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Oct. 28, less than two weeks before the November 2016 U.S. election. Antonio is chairman of Century Properties Group Inc., which partnered with Trump for the branding of the posh Trump Tower in Manila's Makati business district.
The $150 million, 57-story tower was quietly turned over to unit owners earlier this year. The muted opening contrasted with the project's high-profile 2012 groundbreaking rites, when Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric posed for cameras in Manila, smiling and holding shovels.
Antonio rose from modest beginnings but has been listed along with his son Robbie Antonio by Forbes magazine as the Philippines' 28th-richest family, with a combined net worth of over $400 million in 2017. Paris Hilton, Versace and Armani are among Antonio's other rich and famous business partners. The businessman has said he has known Trump for many years and his son Robbie is described on his company's website as "a good friend of the Trump family."
Trump has met plenty of Chinese entrepreneurs, but his biggest friends in China in financial terms are state-owned banks and companies. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world's No. 1 commercial lender by assets, is among the biggest tenants of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Its lease ends in 2019, which has prompted questions about how a sitting American president's family company will negotiate new terms with a bank controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
Trump's partners in Trump World Golf Club Dubai in the Persian Gulf awarded a $32 million contract to China State Construction Engineering Corp. to build the project in a deal reported in September by McClatchy. That prompted questions about whether the Trump Organization was honoring its pledge not to do business with foreign governments.
In the private sector, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, the world's biggest online commerce company by total sales, was among the stream of Chinese business leaders who visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet the president following his election.
The Kushner Cos., the family company of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, cut short a sales campaign in China after a Chinese businesswoman, Ding Ying, was linked to an effort to attract investors in exchange for U.S. visas that advertised ties to the "Trump Family."
Anbang Insurance Group Ltd., one of China's biggest insurers, discussed possibly investing in a Manhattan skyscraper owned by Kushner Cos. Those talks ended in March without a deal.
Masayoshi Son, Japan's richest man and the chief executive and founder of Softbank Group Corp., was quick to visit Trump after the 2016 election and to promise $50 billion for investments in U.S. startups that he said would create 50,000 jobs. After the meeting in Trump Tower, the then-president-elect praised Son as a "great man of industry."
Son, 60, said he had visited Trump to "celebrate his new job," adding, "Because he said he would do a lot of deregulation, I said, 'This is great, the U.S. will become great again.'"
A Japanese of Korean ancestry who graduated from the University of California, Son has won both criticism and accolades as a daring investor who has gathered partners in diverse technology sectors from around the world, and has been likened by some to billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo founded his own political party and had ambitions to run for Indonesian president in 2019, but now says he'll support current President Joko Widodo. His company is building two resorts in Indonesia — one in Bali and the other in West Java — that Trump's business is involved with through management and licensing deals.
Usually known as Tanoe, the 52-year-old tycoon is the founder of the media and real estate conglomerate MNC. He has been dogged by a criminal investigation this year into accusations that he sent threatening text messages to a deputy attorney general who was investigating a tax case involving an MNC company.
Malaysian property developer Tiah Joo Kim, whose father is one of the Southeast Asian country's wealthiest businessmen, licensed the Trump brand for a hotel and condominium tower in Vancouver, Canada, before Trump's political ascent. Trump's sons Donald Jr. and Eric attended the opening in March for the gleaming, 69-story building, where a one-bedroom apartment at 699 square feet (65 square meters) starts at around $1 million.
In an interview with The Associated Press just before the hotel's opening earlier this year, Joo Kim said he found Trump's statements about Muslims, Mexicans and women "extremely stressful." ''I did a lot of soul-searching because people were attacking me for it," he said.
Joo Kim, 37, is the son of tycoon Tony Tiah Thee Kian, a staunch Christian who built his fortune in stockbroking in the 1990s before expanding into real estate. Groomed to inherit the family business, Joo Kim last year was appointed CEO of its property arm TA Global. He also runs the Canadian-based Holborn Group. Raised in Kuala Lumpur, he studied at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and earned a master's degree in international business at Macquarie University in Sydney.
Associated Press writers Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo, Teresa Cerojano in Manila, Philippines, Joe McDonald in Beijing, Stephen Wright in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.