For DTGO Prosperous (DTP), a global investment company, keeping true to its “for all well-being” business philosophy is crucial to its future growth as it aspires to become a true global investment firm.
DTP President Thiti Thongbenjamas says the philosophy of “for all well-being” places a strong emphasis on sustainability via innovation, as well as generating positive impact for the stakeholders, customers and community.
“Global expansion is a key driver in achieving our commitment to social and environmental responsibility,” Thongbenjamas says.
Walking the Talk
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the hospitality sector suffered a huge blow due to lockdown measures, which eventually resulted in staff layoffs and wage cuts.
However, DTP, which acquired 17 hotels comprising various well-known brands across the U.K. in October 2019, decided to retain all of its 1,200 hotel staff and maintain their salaries—a policy that was applied across the DTGO group of companies, including sister company Magnolia Quality Development Corp, one of Thailand’s leading property developers.
“We are in the business of people. With the acquisition, the employees are effectively our family. During challenging times, families don’t give up on each other; instead they take care of one another,” Thongbenjamas says.
The decision to keep all of its employees in the U.K. proved wise, as the hotels reaped the benefits when international borders reopened and lockdowns were lifted. DTP’s hotels were able to go at full speed immediately and serve their guests at full capacity.
More importantly, the decision has also opened more doors to new opportunities and potential partnerships that would play a key role in helping DTP achieve its expansion plans.
Driving Business Growth
DTP is focusing on brownfield projects and high-potential assets in order to generate stable and sustainable income for the group and its investors.
It has four business pillars: global investments, asset management, fund management, and venture capital and innovative investment. Its global investments business pillar is mainly responsible for investing in brownfield property assets. Its asset management pillar is largely responsible for improving its existing assets’ value with the aim of generating stable income.
Its fund management business pillar is responsible for raising capital and recycling capital in order to grow its portfolio. Meanwhile, its venture capital and innovative investment arm generally focuses on identifying potential startups that can generate long-term returns and synergize with the group’s business.
DTP currently has more than US$650 million of assets under management (AUM), including the 17 hotels in the U.K.
“By end-2025, we hope to grow our AUM to approximately US$5 billion. It may sound aggressive, but it is achievable, especially when you have a vibrant monetizing and capital recycling plan with the right partners,” Thongbenjamas says.
To achieve the goal, DTP would need to make progress in all four business groups.
Well-Being For All
Besides giving its 1,200 staff the much-needed “umbrella” during the Covid-19 pandemic, DTP also took steps to ensure that it did not neglect the community in which it operates.
The company organized various programs and activities to engage with the local community, including providing assistance and relief to the homeless.
DTP also takes environmental-related issues seriously, as it embarks on various initiatives to increase the adoption of renewable energy. It applied heat-to-power conversion technology to minimize environmental impact and reduce energy cost. It also has plans to install solar panels to further boost its efficiency.
These value enhancements, coupled with improved operational efficiency and assets have helped increase the hotels’ valuation. Today, the hotel portfolio is valued around 16% higher than when it was acquired back in late 2019.
Becoming a True Global Company
The acquisition of the 17 hotels in the U.K. was just the start of DTP’s global expansion plan. Over the next three years, the company aims to penetrate other European markets, as well as the U.S. and Asia.
It is also looking to acquire and invest in student accommodation properties, in particular, those located in Australia, Germany and the U.S. DTP also plans to acquire retail properties and offices. Meanwhile, DTP is in talks to invest in various technology companies. “We are finalizing M&As with them. These companies are expected to play a synergizing role for DTGO Group’s technology and metaverse ecosystem,” he says.
Once everything is finalized, it will increase the group’s investment portfolio, which includes the American-based biotechnology company Life Biosciences and the Korean-based artificial intelligence company Mind AI.
While eyeing global opportunities, Thongbenjamas will also be keeping a close watch on Thailand.
“We will concentrate a lot on our backyard. In the coming year, there should be more opportunities for good value hospitality assets in Thailand. This is an opportunity for us to further grow our portfolio and our commitment to Thailand’s tourism, especially in popular tourist destinations such as Phuket,” he says.
Riding on Its Successful REIT Momentum
Besides seeing its U.K. hospitality business gaining traction and valuation, 2022 is a momentous year for DTP as it launched its maiden real estate investment trust (REIT) called DTPHREIT.
DTPHREIT, which is a buy-back REIT, invests in hotels and serviced apartments in high-potential areas, including Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevard Serviced Residences and U Khao Yai Hotel.
Investors of the DTPHREIT are expected to receive annual returns of 7% and the DTPHREIT will sell these properties back to their original owners when the investment period is over. The REIT was well-received as the securities were oversubscribed during the initial offer period.
“While we know that investors will enjoy the stable high return that the REIT has to offer from our high-quality assets, we were still surprised by the strong response from the investment community as this is our first REIT fund,” Thongbenjamas says.
The company is in discussions with other property owners about possible subsequent launches of similar buy-back REITs, and it is also exploring the possibility of launching a private equity fund in the near future.
Business of People
While there are big plans for each of DTP’s business pillars in 2023 and beyond, Thongbenjamas says the company will remain disciplined in its investment strategy and ensure that all its ventures, investments and acquisitions meet three criteria.
First, the assets will help the group to achieve a diversified portfolio. Second, it is able to monetize the assets by generating stable income or getting a windfall via divestment. Third, the assets are able to synergize with the group’s businesses.
“At the end of the day, we are in the business of people. Hence, it is important to always give back to society and the community,” he says. “That’s why we have a policy of contributing 2% of our topline to social and environmental causes, which is consistent with our ‘for all well-being’ motto.”