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Trump's planned first resort in Asia may have political implications

Hary Tanoesoedibjo is an Indonesian business mogul sometimes referred to as his country's version of Donald Trump. As chairman and CEO of MNC Group, his portfolio includes real estate, media and even beauty pageants.

"His business and my business are a bit similar — except that I also have financial services," Tanoesoedibjo told CNBC in April this year, when asked about the comparison.

Now, the billionaire and politician is even considering a bid for president to lead the world's fourth most populous country.

The connection with the U.S. president even extends into particular business dealings: In 2015, he made a deal with Trump Hotels to build two Trump-branded resorts in Indonesian regions Bali and West Java.

But it wasn't until less than one month following Trump's inauguration when things began moving. The current resort on the property, Pan Pacific Nirwana, announced it would be closing at the end of July for demolition, making room for the new resort and golf course to be known as Trump International Hotel at MNC Bali Resort.

Tanoesoedibjo said Trump's involvement has been phased out since he's taken office. The Indonesian billionaire met with Trump's sons earlier this year in New York before attending the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C.

"I know him," he said of Trump. "If I say, '(I know him) well,' it's exaggerated. He's a high profile person and he's not involved at all since he became the president."

Tanoesoedibjo created his own Indonesian political party in 2015, and if he decides to become more heavily involved in politics, the tangled dynamic with Trump is likely to grow more complicated: as Southeast Asia's largest economy, Indonesia could be a key part of U.S. policy in the region.

Whatever the future may hold for that relationship, Tanoesoedibjo's company is now focused on developing its upcoming Trump-branded hotels.

The Pan Pacific Hotel in Bali will shut down in July to make room for Trump International Hotel at MNC Bali Resort. The deal was first signed in 2015.
CNBC
The Pan Pacific Hotel in Bali will shut down in July to make room for Trump International Hotel at MNC Bali Resort. The deal was first signed in 2015.

"We want to go more exclusive. We want to build a resort that attracts a certain demographic, that is high end, that is very exclusive," Ivan Casadevall, deputy COO of MNC Land said while showing CNBC the property in Bali.

The Trump Hotels website boasts that its upcoming Bali project will be a tower, which is reportedly causing some concern among locals. In Bali has strict restrictions on height, requiring structures be no taller than the nearest coconut trees.

But, MNC said it's working very closely with authorities to respect all legislation and requirements. The company denied reports of any tower being built, and Trump Hotels did not respond to a request for clarification.

"We want to make sure people are proud of what we're building, but at the same we work closely with the team that will help us build this very unique site, preserving some of the local cultural values," Casadevall said.

The hotel sits adjacent to the well-known and historic Tanah Lot temple and looks out over the Indian Ocean.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect when Hary Tanoesoedibjo started a political party.