December 4, 2019 / 5:10 PM / 3 days ago

Swiss visa services group VFS Global readies IPO - sources

ZURICH/FRANKFURT, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Buyout group EQT is readying another attempt to sell consular- and visa-services company VFS Global, this time eyeing an SIX Swiss Exchange listing in the first half of next year, people familiar with the situation told Reuters.

EQT in May put plans for a VFS sale on ice as suitors’ views on valuation were too far away from EQT’s expectations for a deal worth up to 2.5 billion Swiss francs ($2.51 billion), sources had said at the time.

VFS, formerly part of travel group Kuoni, had attracted offers from private equity investors such Partners Group, Cinven, CVC, Permira, PAI and Onex.

“It was the right decision to wait because EQT was unable to get the price it had imagined,” one person following the deal closely said. Credit Suisse and Citi are organising the current listing plans for Dubai-based VFS, which employs around 11,000 staff. No final decision to proceed has been taken.

VFS operates in 147 countries and processes visa applications for governments in around 3,400 sites. It sees growth prospects in work permits and driver licenses.

Rivals include Teleperformance unit TLScontact.

EQT bought Kuoni in 2016 and split it into three businesses. VFS, in which Kuoni and the Hugentobler Foundation have stakes, has made a series of acquisitions since then.

VFS, Credit Suisse and Citi declined comment. EQT could not be reached immediately for comment. ($1 = 0.9972 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Oliver Hirt and Arno Schuetze, Editing by Michael Shields)

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