Donald Trump has taken a break from his US presidential campaign to open a golf development in Scotland. Republicans are worried that his attention is divided between his political campaign and his business empire.
Trump is jetting off to Scotland to attend a grand re-opening ceremony on Friday for his Trump Turnberry golf course and resort. Trump said he spent about 200 million British Pounds ($300 million, 260 million euros) on the property he purchased in 2014. Turnberry is situated on Scotland's rugged west coast.
"I paid all cash," Trump boasted. "I then spent a tremendous amount of money on renovating the hotel and the golf courses. It's incredible."
Turnberry is one of 12 golf courses Trump has purchased on both sides of the Atlantic over the past 20 years. He called these successful business investments because he paid bargain prices on depressed properties and then spent large sums of money upgrading the properties.
It's a formula he says he intends to use to revitalize the US economy if elected president. "Just like I have no debt (on the courses), just like all these things ... we're going to reduce the debt of the country, we're going to increase jobs," he said. "We're going to make America great again."
Trump lost millions
But an independent analysis of Trump's golf investments estimated his golf-related properties to be worth no more than $600 million. If so, it would mean Trump has lost hundreds of millions of dollars investing in golf developments.
"The figures indicate that those were bad investments," said John Griffin, professor of finance at the University of Texas, who has studied Trump's wealth. He said a typical property fund would have given Trump a much larger rate of return.
Instead, Trump "seems to have lost half his investment," Griffin said.
Trump dismissed the analysis, telling Reuters he had spent "much less" than $1 billion on his golf portfolio. He said the review failed to take into account the properties' long-term potential, which includes converting the golf courses into housing.
"It's pretty simple," he said. "My golf holdings are really investments in thousands, many thousands of housing units and hotels. At some point the company will do them. Hopefully, I won't because I will be president."
Conflicts of interest
This week's trip to Scotland and his future plans are raising questions about potential conflicts of interest Trump would have upholding his oath of office, if elected president, and managing his multibillion dollar business empire.
His trip to Scotland this week already has some Republicans worried that his attention is divided. He may also face questions of conflict of interest.
Trump's situation is similar to that faced by Michael Bloomberg, founder, owner and CEO of the global financial data and media company when he became mayor of New York in 2001.
bik/jm (Reuters, AP)