Fairfax-controlled Quess Corp to buy 51% in Tata’s BPO unit
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Quess Corp, controlled by India-born Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd, has agreed to acquire a 51% stake in the business process outsourcing arm of Tata Group.

Bangalore-based Quess will pay Rs 153 crore ($23.5 million) in cash for the stake in Hyderabad-based Tata Business Support Services Ltd, it said in a stock-exchange filing.

Tata Sons Ltd, the holding company of the salt-to-steel conglomerate, will hold the remaining 49%.

Tata Business, set up in 1995, provides services such as customer life cycle management and business process management to both Tata and non-Tata companies in finance, retail and telecom sectors.

It has about 27,000 employees across 27 delivery centres and 400 field offices. The company reported revenue of Rs 661 crore and operating profit of Rs 55.9 crore for 2016-17.

Quess, which has about 212,500 employees, said the deal fills strategic gaps in its offerings related to customer life cycle and business process management segments.

Ajit Isaac, chairman and managing director at Quess, said Tata Business Support’s digital capabilities and marquee clients will help the company grow its operations.

Quess, earlier known as IKYA Human Capital Solutions Ltd, was founded by serial entrepreneur Isaac. The firm was acquired by travel and tour company Thomas Cook in 2013 for Rs 256 crore. It was then rebranded as Quess. Thomas Cook itself was acquired in 2012 by Toronto-based Fairfax.

Quess went public in July 2016 through an initial public offering of Rs 400 crore. The IPO was subscribed 144 times, making it the most attractive primary market offering in eight years. Its shares jumped 57% on debut.

The company has an active acquisition strategy, and it has struck two dozen acquisitions since 2008.

Last month, it agreed to acquire a 70% stake in Vedang Cellular Services Pvt. Ltd for up to Rs 40 crore in cash.

In August, the company said it planned to raise Rs 1,150 crore ($180 million) through an institutional private placement for acquisitions, other strategic initiatives and working capital requirements.

In January, Quess announced the acquisition of a 26% stake in Coimbatore-based software development company Heptagon Technologies Pvt. Ltd. In May, Quess Corp increased its stake in Heptagon to 46%.

In 2016, it entered Singapore by acquiring a 64% stake in IT staff augmentation solutions company Comtel Solutions Pte. Ltd. In November last year, Quess had acquired the facility management and catering business of Manipal Integrated Services Pvt. Ltd for Rs 220 crore and an additional stock component.

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