EQT has agreed to sell VFS Global to Blackstone. No financial terms were disclosed. When the deal closes, EQT will retain a minority take in VFS. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, VFS Global is a provider of visa outsourcing services.
EQT is pleased to announce that the EQT VII fund (“EQT Private Equity”) has signed a definitive agreement to sell a majority stake in VFS Global (the “Company”) to private equity funds managed by Blackstone (”Blackstone”). EQT Private Equity will retain a minority position in the Company alongside Blackstone and the Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation following the closing of the transaction.
Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, VFS Global is an industry pioneer and the world’s largest provider of visa outsourcing services, such as administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport and consular services for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. The Company serves over 60 client governments through more than 3,500 Visa Application Centers in more than 140 countries across five continents.
EQT Private Equity acquired Kuoni Group in May 2016, which at the time consisted of three business segments: GTA, GTS (Kuoni Global Travel Services) and VFS Global. Following a strategic repositioning of the business, the GTA and GTS segments were divested in 2017, allowing EQT Private Equity to focus fully on the development of VFS Global as a standalone portfolio company.
During EQT Private Equity’s ownership, VFS Global has successfully expanded its differentiated market position with industry-leading technologies, infrastructure and capabilities. The company strengthened its long-term client government relationships, won major new contracts, and serves more client governments than ever before. The Company successfully broadened its product range into lesser travel-dependent offerings, such as passport and consular services. It strengthened its digital capabilities and executed on multiple inorganic opportunities. While VFS Global’s operations were impacted by travel restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Company successfully adjusted to the new travel patterns and is well-positioned to benefit from the strong demand when travel resumes as a vital part of the global economy.
Matthias Wittkowski, Partner within EQT Private Equity’s Advisory Team, said, “We are proud of the remarkable expansion of VFS Global’s market position and substantial improvements in its independent governance, which we achieved together with the VFS Global team in the past five years during EQT’s majority ownership. We are pleased to have found a partner in Blackstone who will continue to support VFS Global in its strong future growth story. We especially thank VFS Global’s CEO Zubin Karkaria, the management team, all employees and the board for their exceptional dedication over the past years and look forward to continuing the partnership as a minority shareholder in the Company.”
Lionel Assant and Amit Dixit, Europe and Asia Head of Blackstone Private Equity, respectively, said: “VFS spearheaded the visa outsourcing business and is today a global market leader, playing a crucial role in enabling access to travel for millions of people around the world in an efficient and secure manner. VFS’ local market expertise, unmatched global footprint and technology leadership makes the company a reliable partner to client governments across the world. We are excited to partner with the company’s CEO Zubin Karkaria and the management team, and the Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation. We look forward to helping the company capitalize on the global travel recovery, accelerate its digitization journey, and expand into adjacent services to further accelerate growth and create value for all stakeholders.”
Zubin Karkaria, CEO of VFS Global, further commented, “On behalf of the entire VFS Global team, I want to thank EQT for the very collaborative and value enhancing partnership over the past five years. With EQT’s trust and support – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – we are in a much stronger position today and look forward to the next phase of growth together with Blackstone.”
The transaction is expected to close by Q1 2022.