Out-Trumping Trump: How one company is getting more towers than Donald Trump

Andrew Cave
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Want to have more towers than Donald Trump? Business magazines publisher Forbes has a plan. (Source: Getty)

Want to have as many tower blocks named after you as Donald Trump without having to build any of them? Forbes, the American business magazine publisher, has come up with a plan.

The privately-owned company added property to its other three strategic pillars of print and digital media and branding back in 2013, with a plan to lend its name to builders of tower blocks in emerging markets.

It unveiled the first Forbes Tower in 2013, putting its name on a 42-storey building in Makati, Philippines. Last month (January), plans for a Forbes Tower in Bahrain were unveiled.

The strategy sees developers pay fees to licence the Forbes name for their buildings, which are topped by a Forbes Club venue for business people.

Chief executive Mike Perlis sees potential for many more such deals. When I asked him in a recent interview how many towers Forbes could have, he replied: “I don’t know. How many does Trump have? I certainly think that there are dozens out there that we can do and that’s what we’re aiming at.

“A number of people in emerging economies have indicated that a Forbes Club in a Forbes Tower would be something they are interested in.

“We’re in the process of marketing that. We’re in talks about more in Asia and the Middle East. Forbes is very popular in India.”

Founded in 1917, Forbes operates in 38 nations, employing 400 people. Majority-owned by Hong Kong investor group Integrated Whale Media Investments, it does not disclose revenues and profits.

However, Mr Perlis said media accounts for about 80 per cent of revenues, with property, conferences, a travel business and the Forbes School of Business, a new online education venture, making up the remainder

“I’d like media to continue to grow but to be 60 per cent or 50 per cent of the total, with branded products as a bigger piece of that pie,” he said.

“If the revenues of the other things go to 40 per cent, profitability will go higher. These businesses maximise the investment that’s already been made in the brand through media and they’re much less people-intensive.”

Forbes has some way to go with its new strategy to match the total of towers under the Trump name.

Founded in 1923 and run by Donald Trump from 1971 until January this year, The Trump Organization has dozens of towers under its name worldwide from New York to Istanbul, Manila and Baku, Azerbaijan.

Many of the properties are no longer owned by the company but continue to use the name under licensing deals.

Following President Trump’s inauguration, the Trump Organization is now run by his sons Donald junior and Eric.

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