Fairfax-controlled Quess to buy remaining stake in HR firm Comtel
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

Fairfax-controlled business service provider Quess Corp. has received board approval to acquire remaining 36% stake in Singapore-based staffing firm Comtel Solutions Pte. Ltd for $16.3 million (Rs 111 crore). The nod for stake buyout in the island-nation based firm with operations across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia comes after a raft of acquisitions made over the past two years.

The company, which is more than a decade old, has been growing through mergers and acquisitions, diversifying and creating a string of services. It completed its first acquisition in the second year of its operations and continues to gobble up firms.

In October 2016, Quess had agreed to acquire 64% stake in Comtel Solutions for about $20 million in cash.

In February 2017, the services provider completed acquisition of the 64% stake in Comtel.

“The acquisition of Comtel established our IT staffing footprint in Singapore and gave us a market-leading presence in South East Asia, a key geography for our next stage of growth,” Quess had said in its 2016-17 annual report.

Comtel offers services across staffing solutions, managed services solutions, and recruitment and search services. As on 31 March 2017, Comtel had a workforce of over 1,200 associates.

Quess, earlier known as IKYA Human Capital Solutions Ltd, was founded in September 2007 by serial entrepreneur Ajit Isaac. It operates as an integrated business service provider in India, West Asia (the Middle East), South-East Asia, and North America. The firm was acquired by travel and tour company Thomas Cook in early 2013 for Rs 256 crore, then rebranded as Quess. Thomas Cook itself was acquired in 2012 by Fairfax Financial Holdings, which is controlled by Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa. India-born Watsa is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings.

Quess Corp’s consolidated revenue stood at Rs 6,167 crore for 2017-18, up from Rs 4,315 crore a year ago.

Its profit after tax was Rs 310 crore for 2017-18, up from Rs 122 crore a year ago.

Quess, which has an active acquisition strategy, has picked stakes in close to two dozen companies since 2008.

In January 2018, it agreed to acquire jobs portal Monster.com’s India, South East and West Asia units, as well as HCL Infosystems Ltd’s after-sales services for consumer electronics and mobile phones.

In the same month, the company agreed to acquire a 90% stake in Greenpiece Landscapes for Rs 26.2 crore ($4.1 million).

Six months ago, Quess agreed to acquire a 51% stake in the business process outsourcing arm of Tata Group for Rs 153 crore ($23.5 million) in cash.

Seven months ago, Quess Corp Ltd agreed to acquire a 70% stake in Vedang Cellular Services Pvt. Ltd for up to Rs 40 crore ($6.2 million) in cash. Quess said the acquisition of the telecom network operations and maintenance services provider would complement its capabilities in telecom network management in terms of service offerings, geographical reach and customer base.

Nine months ago, Quess 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.

One year ago, Quess increased its stake in Coimbatore-based Heptagon Technologies Pvt. Ltd to 46% from 26%.

Again one year ago, Quess agreed to acquire the facility management and catering business of Manipal Integrated Services Pvt. Ltd for Rs 220 crore.

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