January 15, 2019 / 10:16 AM / a year ago

EQT to launch sale of Swiss outsourcing company VFS

FRANKFURT/ZURICH (Reuters) - Buyout group EQT Partners is launching the sale of outsourcing firm VFS in coming weeks in a potential 2-2.5 billion Swiss franc deal, people close to the matter said.

The private equity group is working with investment bank Lazard on the divestiture and may also opt for a stock market listing in case markets are favourable and a flotation promises to reap a higher valuation, they said.

EQT declined to comment.

EQT is holding meetings with potential buyers including private equity groups and sovereign wealth funds and will send out detailed information packages including full-year VFS figures around late February, they said.

The private equity firm bought Swiss travel group Kuoni in 2016 with a view of breaking the company up. After selling off former Kuoni businesses GTA to Cinven-owned Hotelbeds and Global Travel Services to JTB Corporation EQT strengthened VFS with a series of add-on acquisitions.

VFS, with headquarters in Dubai, is a provider of visa process outsourcing services for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. It supplies security checks, information dissemination and form checks for visa applicants, as well as the recording of biometric data and identity verification.

VFS is expected to report 2018 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 160 million Swiss francs and could be valued at up to 15 times that in a potential sale, the sources said.

The company, which competes with France’s TLScontact ROCH.PA is targeting growth in areas such as work permits and transport tickets.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Oliver Hirt, editing by

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