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Matthew Ram, 37

A hotel acquisitions executive leans on experience in a tough market.


  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 5:00 p.m. October 12, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Matthew Ram holding a picture in his phone of his mentor, Santosh Govindaraju, CEO of Convergent Capital Partners.
Matthew Ram holding a picture in his phone of his mentor, Santosh Govindaraju, CEO of Convergent Capital Partners.
Photo by Mark Wemple
  • Class of 2023
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Starting a job with a real estate private equity firm amid a recession — caused mostly by over-leveraged real estate — is, at minimum, a risky proposition. 

But for Matthew Ram, that move, some 15 years ago, launched what’s now a solid career in the field. Now in charge of hotel acquisitions for Tampa-based hotel management firm McKibbon Hospitality, under the division McKibbon Equities, Ram got his start in the business in 2010 with Convergent Capital Partners. His first job for the Tampa-based firm, after graduating from USF with a degree in finance, was analyzing and underwriting distressed real estate investments. “The timing was pretty fortuitous,” says Ram. “Coming out of the recession there was a lot of opportunity to buy property." 

Ram credits Convergent CEO Santosh Govindaraju with taking a chance on a college kid, and then quickly becoming a trusted mentor. Two key lessons? Govindaraju, Ram says, taught him self-reliance and that an edge in real estate, really in business, is to over-prepare and become an expert “on a certain subject matter.” Govindaraju, Ram adds, also led by example in being pragmatic, with deals and relationships with clients. 

The roles Ram held at Convergent also helped prepare him for a more specific, niche-driven post, in finding hotels to acquire. “I had the opportunity there to learn about multifaceted aspects of real estate,” he says. 

Up next was a stint as investment manager with Liberty Group, a Tampa-based hotel acquisition investment fund run by prominent entrepreneur Punit Shah. The seven years there prepared Ram for his next step, at McKibbon. 

His unit there completed its first acquisition, in August, of a Hampton Inn on Ulmerton Road. McKibbon Equities, through its McKibbon’s Income Fund 1, paid $18.73 million for the 128-room hotel, according to Pinellas County property records. 

Ram is confident this acquisition is the first of many to add to the company’s portfolio — with one current caveat: the market is tough right now, and slow. The fast-moving sales of 2021 have mostly passed, sellers aren’t as motivated and buyers are cautious, he says. Interest rates are one core reason, he adds. “The market has been really challenging,” he says. “The cost of money has been really high.” 

 

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Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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