The Work

November 3, 2008 2:50 PM

Fore! Dundas & Wilson Caddies For Trump on $2 Billion Scottish Golfing Deal

Posted by Brian Baxter


Donald Trump may no longer host The Apprentice, but the real estate kingpin still figures to spend some time in the boardroom congratulating his lawyers for helping him win approval for a Scottish golf resort deal valued at nearly $2 billion.

Despite pressure from local residents and environmentalists, the Scottish government announced on Monday that it had approved Trump's plan to build a luxury golf resort on 1,400 acres of coastal land in northeast Scotland.

"It took a little bit of a fight, but we've been waiting for this for a few years so it was well worth it," says George Sorial, managing director of international development and assistant general counsel to The Trump Organization. Sorial, a former partner at Day Pitney and New Jersey's DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Wisler, says that he handled most of the regulatory and planning approvals while Trump Organization general counsel Jason Greenblatt coordinated the six land purchases for the project.

Not surprisingly for a deal that faced some local opposition, the advice of local counsel was also critical. Sorial says Trump turned to a legal team from Scotland's largest firm, Dundas & Wilson, for advice on land acquisitions and regulatory approvals.

On the acquisition side, London-based retail development and real estate partner Allan Wernham and associate Deborah Niven advised Trump. On the planning side, Edinburgh-based Colin Boyd, Scotland's former lord advocate and the man who tried the Pan Am 103 bombing case in Lockerbie, provided outside counsel. Boyd was assisted by Ann Faulds, head of the firm's planning and transportation team, and associate Ruth Lunny.

The plan calls for the golf resort to be built on coastal lands near the North Sea at Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, which is located about 12 miles north of Aberdeen. Sorial says the development will include two golf courses, a 450-room hotel, 500 single-family homes, 950 holiday homes, 36 golf villas, a conference center, a golf academy, and such ancillary facilities like clubhouses.

Trump's effort to build what he calls "the world's greatest golf course" had been opposed by environmental groups such as RSPB Scotland, as well as by some local residents who didn't want to sell their land. Trump himself was called before a panel of public inquiry in Aberdeen over the summer to defend the project. The Donald sought to play up his Scottish ancestry--his mother was born in Scotland, which is where golf has its roots--and emphasized the environmental friendliness and economic soundness of the project.

In its announcement on Monday, the Scottish government concurred with the latter, noting that a deal with Trump could create nearly 6,000 new jobs and give the area a significant economic boost.

No stranger to legal battles, overcoming Scotland's regulatory hurdles to the golf transaction gets Trump back in the win column. Last month a New York State judge ruled against The Donald in an ongoing dispute he has with New York's Morrison Cohen, whom Trump accuses of overcharging him in a case.

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