EQT VII acquired Kuoni Group, a leading service provider to the global travel industry based in Switzerland, in May 2016. The main rationale for acquiring Kuoni was to position its three businesses (GTA, GTS and VFS Global) separately to optimally support Kuoni’s further development. After finding new owners to GTA and GTS EQT’s main focus is on expanding VFS Global’s clear market leadership.
VFS Global is an industry pioneer and the global number one provider of visa process outsourcing services for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. The company also provides passport, consular, and other citizen services to governments. It has a differentiated market position with leading technologies, infrastructure and capabilities as well as long-term client government relationships and contracts. Its main responsibilities include security checks, information dissemination and form checks for visa applicants, as well as secure temporary capturing of biometric data and identity verification.
To VFS Global
Market trends and drivers
Outsourced visa applications are expected to return to high growth post the Covid-19 pandemic, driven by a growing number of international travelers and an ongoing trend of governments to outsource visa application processes. The company benefits from a diversified business model as it processes a wide range of visas, including resilient categories such as student, work, medical and long-term settlement, in addition to business and leisure visas.
For VFS Global, additional growth potential lies in leveraging its client government relationships (64 governments) and global footprint (more than 3,400 Visa Application Centers in 140+ countries) to further expand into adjacent areas such as passport, consular and other citizen services.
VFS Global perfectly fits EQT’s principles of investing in market leading, founder led, high-quality companies and supporting them to become even stronger and more sustainable for the future. EQT, together with the Kuoni and Hugentobler Foundation as owners, intends to enable VFS Global to realize its full potential by leveraging its market leadership position in the continuously growing visa process outsourcing market as well as enhancing growth and diversification through its lesser traveller-dependent and hence more resilient offerings such as passport, consular and other citizen services as well as identity management.
Moreover, EQT supports VFS Global as it strives for further digitalization of visa processes to create a scalable platform that actively shapes the evolving requirements of client governments and customers. Furthermore, EQT will continue to provide VFS Global with access to capital to pursue strategically important acquisitions.
All figures are for VFS Global
The icons illustrate the portfolio companies' positive societal contributions based on their solutions i.e. how their products and/or services solve key challenges expressed as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Key events since EQT investment
- In July 2017, the Kuoni Group was refinanced including two separate financings for VFS and GTA/GTS, respectively, and thus completed its legal separation into three fully stand-alone businesses
- Kuoni successfully completed the divestitures of its GTS division (read more here) and the merger of its GTA division into Hotelbeds Group (read more here)
- In July 2017, VFS closed the acquisition of its Facility Management Company in the CIS region (70% stake) to deepen its value chain
- In August 2017, VFS closed the acquisition of TT Services, allowing VFS to strengthen its visa processing footprint in the Pacific region
- In October 2018, VFS closed the acquisition of the outsourced visa processing business for the Saudi government (50% JV stake not yet owned), FMC operator in Middle East and two VAS businesses (thereof one 50% JV stake not yet owned)
- Since acquisition, VFS increased
- the number of client governments by 31% from 49 to 64
- the number of visa application centers by 81% from 1,919 to 3,482
- the number of countries of operation from 123 to 144