BLS International Services Ltd (BLS) is a trusted global tech-enabled services partner for governments and citizens; it is among the top three global players and the only listed entity in India in this domain. The Company is a preferred partner for Embassies and Governments across the world, having an impeccable reputation for setting benchmarks in the domain of visa, passport, consular, e-governance, attestation, bio-metric, e-visa and retail services. It also provides citizen services to state and provincial governments across Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, North America & Middle East.
With over 16 years of experience now the operations have scaled up across 66 nations. Today, BLS partners with 46 client governments in the provision of outsourced visa and passport, front end and citizen, consular and passport, verification and attestation and E-Visa services. It has a network of more than 12,000 centers globally with robust strength of over 15,000 employees and associates that provides consular, bio-metrics and citizen services having helped process over 52 mn applications till date.
BLS has just resumed accepting visa applications for India, Spain, Brazil, Lebanon, Cyprus, Portugal and Belarus Missions in 70 locations across 32 countries post the 2nd wave of Covid. The Company has resumed accepting visa applications for India in China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia. BLS said it has also resumed services for accepting visa applications for Lebanon in India, for Brazil in China and Lebanon, for Cyprus in Qatar, for Portugal in Russia, for Belarus in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines amongst others. BLS has resumed accepting visa applications for Spain in 51 locations majorly including China, the UK, the UAE, Philippines, Singapore, Russia, Indonesia, Morocco and a few more.
BLS announced last month that it will undertake assisted e-commerce services for Amazon as part of a three-year mutually exclusive agreement to provide last minute connectivity through its centers across India. This service through BLS centers will help the e-commerce giant to provide e-shopping experience and order fulfillment in urban, semi-urban and rural areas of India. This collaboration will be a game changer in the e-commerce industry as it will provide last mile connectivity to Amazon where customer acquisition, delivery and realization are a challenge. BLS center operators will book the product for the consumer from the wide range available on Amazon.in and the customer can pay for the product in cash. BLS center operator in turn will make the payment online on the portal and the consumer can then pick up the product from the center once it is delivered.
All the global branch offices of BLS are on lease, making it an asset-light business with minimum liabilities. The Company has an efficient capital utilization mechanism to use funds only for contract execution. Citizen Service offices are operated by BLS and developed by the government, thereby ensuring cost optimization.
Most services offered by governments globally, to consumers are still only semi-automated with a low penetration of cutting-edge technologies, thus leading to slow and inefficient delivery Outsourcing to a specialized partner like BLS reduces delivery time, increases efficiency and leads to customer delight which in turn enhances government image and national brand. In addition, several initiatives by Indian government to provide attractive opportunities in e-service ecosystem, both the central & state governments are leveraging solutions and services from specialist service providers like BLS to realize the vision of Digital India.
BLS has successfully carried out a citizen services project in Punjab and it is likely to open up doors to implement the same in other states. Moreover, government’s focus on e-service ecosystem has opened up huge possibilities.
The fundamentals of BLS are very strong, near monopoly business, asset light & excellent growth prospects. The return on capital employed (ROCE) of the company has been above 30% in the pre-Covid era. The Company is debt- free and has strong cash flows with cash holding of ~Rs. 240 cr which is ~20% of market cap of the Company.
The last 6 quarters- from Q4FY20, FY21 & Q1FY22 (ongoing) have been very bad for the travel industry due to COVID measures. BSL has managed to stay profitable, albeit lower, during this period. We expect travel & tourism to pick up gradually again from Q2FY22 & we will see the full impact in FY23.
Sabyasachi Paul has been associated with equity research and advisory on equity markets in India for over 13 years & currently heads the equity research desk of Eastern Financiers Ltd, Kolkata.