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Blackstone to buy VFS Global from EQT at $2bn valuation, eyes global travel recovery

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Private equity major EQT has agreed to sell a majority stake in visa outsourcing services provider VFS Global to fellow buyout house Blackstone at a valuation believed to be over $2bn. EQT will retain a minority position after the deal.

 India’s Economic Times reported the valuation figure, citing unnamed sources.

 

 EQT said VFS Global had expanded into lesser travel-dependent fields, strengthened its digital capabilities and executed on multiple inorganic opportunities since its acquisition in 2016 through EQT VII.

Headquartered in Switzerland and UAE, VFS Global provides administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport and consular services for governments and diplomatic missions. It has over 60 client governments through 3,500 visa application centers. 

The firm said the business has adjusted well to the new travel patterns brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and can benefit from the strong demand when travel resumes.

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.”

Blackstone Private Equity’s Europe and Asia heads Lionel Assant and Amit Dixit said in a joint statement, “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.”

Blackstone struck a $4.5bn final close for its oversubscribed Blackstone Growth fund in March, making it the largest first-time growth equity private fundraise in history.

It is also reported to target $4bn of capital for Tactical Opportunities Fund IV which specialises in investments which are time sensitive, complex or mispriced due to dislocated markets.

EQT closed EQT VII on €6.75bn hard cap in 2015, and EQT IX on €15.6bn in April.

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