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 is also experienced in identity and citizen services. It has a differentiated market position with leading technologies, infrastructure and capabilities as well as long-term customer relationships and contracts. Its main responsibilities include security checks, information dissemination and form checks for visa applicants, as well as the recording of biometric data and identity verification.
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Market trends and drivers
Outsourced visa applications will continue to grow at over 10% per annum over the coming years driven by a growing number of international travelers and an ongoing trend of governments to outsource visa application processes. For VFS Global, additional growth could be generated from leveraging its customer relationships (62 governments) and global infrastructure (more than 2,800 Visa Application Centers) to expand into adjacent areas such as Verification and 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 new business such as Identity and Citizen Services, Verification and Attestation as well as B2C visa-related offerings. Moreover, EQT strives for further digitalization of visa processes to create a scalable platform and additional barriers to entry and will 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 27% from 49 to 62
- the number of visa application centers by 48% from 1,919 to 2,834
- the number of countries of operation from 123 to 141