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Edited Transcript of BLS.NSE earnings conference call or presentation 18-Nov-19 9:00am GMT

Q2 2020 BLS International Services Ltd Earnings Call

NEW DELHI Nov 25, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of BLS International Services Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Monday, November 18, 2019 at 9:00:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Amit Sudhakar

BLS International Services Limited - CFO

* Rakesh Amol

BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director

* Shikhar Aggarwal

BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Chirag Vekaria

* Maan Vardhan Baid

* Vikas Jain

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, good day, and welcome to the Q2 and H1 FY '20 Earnings Conference Call of BLS International Limited. (Operator Instructions) Please note that this conference is being recorded.

We have with us on the call today: Mr. Rakesh Amol, MD; Mr. Shikhar Aggarwal, Joint MD; and Mr. Amit Sudhakar, Chief Financial Officer, representing BLS International Limited.

I now hand the conference over to Mr. Rakesh Amol, Managing Director of BLS International. Thank you, and over to you, sir.

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [2]

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Hello. Good afternoon, everyone. This is Rakesh Amol, and I welcome you all to our earnings conference for quarter 2 and H1. It's my pleasure for the first time to be interacting with you all.

I have beside me Mr. Shikhar Aggarwal, our Joint Managing Director, who will take you through the business highlights of the quarter and the H1 and our plans, following which our CFO, Mr. Amit Sudhakar, will take you through the numbers, through the financials and where we stand. And thereafter, we will open this conference for the Q&A session based on which you can check on whatever you would want to know and we'll try to address that. I'm available to interject in between for certain issues which I can handle.

So over to you, Mr. Shikhar, to present the highlights of the business. Thank you, all.

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [3]

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Good afternoon, everyone. I welcome you all to our earnings conference call of quarter 2 and H1 FY '20. Let me brief you on the recent developments and our business strategy going forward.

We are glad to report 12% revenue growth in H1 FY '20 and quarter 2 FY '20, driven by organic growth in our core business of visa, passport and consular services.

This quarter, we commenced accepting visa applications for Brazil in Beirut, Lebanon and inaugurated a new Spain visa application center in Belarus and Miami. In Ankara and Tashkent, we relocated our Spain visa application centers to larger and more convenient sites to further benefit of applicants.

Though we reported a healthy growth in operating revenues, our operating profit during the quarter and half was impacted by losses in the UKVI business. At the time of bidding and getting this contract, the number of services that were promised to us was not awarded to us. Even though the business contributed nearly INR 30 crore revenue in each quarter of quarter 4 FY '19 and quarter 1 FY '20, we were making losses on that. Thus, we have made the conscious call to exit the business and have discontinued the UKVI operations.

We have also taken impairment charge of the UKVI business this quarter, which is to the tune of INR 28 crores. However, there will be no impact on the business going forward and every -- all the expenses, everything that had to be written off are written off as of date.

Let me briefly update you on the Punjab contract. As some of you are aware, we renegotiated the Punjab contract in August 2018. We are glad to share that the business there has been stabilized and we are fetching good margins. In the new contract, the number of services have been increased, whereas the number of Sewa Kendras have been rationalized. Thus, we are able to leverage our centers better, optimizing our resources and margins.

Also, now we collect the entire fee from customer, citizens upfront, whereas in the previous contract, had element of subsidized pricing and some amount which was the revenue deficit to be collected from the government in case it arised. This leads to better working capital management and cash flows for the company. And going forward, we have no headache for the outstanding to be received from the governments.

I'm glad to share that during the quarter, we received 2 awards: one is Quality Excellence Award for the Best Operational Process in Visa Outsourcing at the World Quality Congress & Awards and the other India's Most Trusted Visa Outsourcing Services Company for its excellence in visa process outsourcing.

This has been a year of consolidation and learning for us from the UKVI business as well as the Punjab contract. However, going forward, we believe that we are well placed to tap growing opportunities in visa, passport and consular service as well as citizen services. We have built strong competence in our core business, which we expect to leverage on going forward. We are targeting new clients and geographies on one hand and looking to deepen presence with existing clients by offering enhanced services to them on the other hand. A lot of focus is on value-add services, which help us utilizing our existing network and infrastructure, thus enhancing efficiency and margins.

In citizen services, we have established our execution capabilities through Punjab contract. We will be bidding for more such contracts in other states with focus on contracts that match our desired margins and our desired upfront pay model. We further aim to tap international markets for outsourced citizen and front-end services and target missions we already have relationships with. We've already established experience in international markets through citizen contracts in UAE and Afghanistan.

As you know that during the last quarter, we won contracts for new geographies like Brazil, which are outsourcing for the first time. And going forward, these countries are outsourcing in different countries.

This is all from my side, and now I hand over to our CFO, Amit Sudhakar, for updates on financial performances. Thank you.

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [4]

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Good afternoon, everyone. Let me take you through the financial performance for the quarter and half year ended September 30, 2019.

During the quarter, we reported revenue of INR 204 crores, growth of 12% year-on-year basis. For H1 FY '20, revenue totaled to INR 430 crores, which was 12% growth. The growth has been driven by core business of visa, passport and consular services, which more than made up for the decline in Punjab's revenue order under the new contract.

EBITDA for Q2 FY '20 stood at INR 29 crores as compared to INR 36 crores in the corresponding quarter last year. EBITDA margin for Q2 FY '20 stood at 14%. For H1 FY '20, EBITDA stood at INR 56 crores. Please note that our EBITDA and EBITDA margins were impacted on account of operating loss incurred in UKVI project. This loss amounted to around INR 10 crores in Q2 FY '20 and INR 17 crores in H1 FY '20. So if we calculate EBITDA excluding this loss, it comes to INR 39 crores in Q2 FY '20 and INR 73 crores in H1 FY '20. We have now closed UKVI project, and there will be no further impact in the coming quarters.

On financial cost during Q2 FY '20, came down to INR 0.3 crores compared to INR 2.9 crores in Q2 FY '19. For half year FY '20, financial cost was INR 1.3 crores compared to INR 6.3 crores in H1 FY '19. This reduction has been on account of low debt. Our total borrowing, including short term and long term, stood at INR 6.4 crores as on 30th September '19 compared to INR 37.5 crores as on 31st March '19.

This quarter, we have onetime impairment charges due to UKVI business to the tune of INR 27.8 crores. Thus, we reported loss at PBT level for Q2 FY '20 at INR 1.3 crores. Reported PBT for H1 FY '20 stood at INR 24.6 crores. However, if you look at the adjusted PBT, excluding UKVI operations -- operating loss and onetime income/expense, it amounts to INR 36.4 crores in Q2 FY '20 versus INR 31.5 crores in Q2 FY '19, a growth of 16% Y-o-Y basis. Adjusted PBT for H1 FY '20 stood at INR 69.8 crores versus INR 73.7 crores in H1 FY '19.

I would also like to highlight that we reported INR 57 crores reduction in trade receivables during the first 6 months of the financials. The total receivables as on 30th September '19 stood at INR 119 crores compared to INR 176 crores as on 31st March 2019.

Also, pleased to note we have successfully able to bring down Punjab contract receivables stood at INR 67.5 crores as on 30th September '19.

We continue to reduce our debt and focus on high cash-generating operations. Total debt as on 30th September stood at INR 6 crores instead of INR 37 crores as on 31st March 2019.

Cash and bank balance on a consolidated basis stood at INR 210 crores as on 30th September '19.

That is all from my side. I would now request the moderator to open the call for questions and answers. Thank you.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) The first question is from the line of Vikas Jain from Financial Quotient.

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Vikas Jain, [2]

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Shikhar, my question is in relation to the UKVI project that we have taken and the impairments that we have written off this quarter. So I would like to understand a little more about what went wrong with Sopra Steria and what made us lose this business. And how about the due diligence process that we do at a corporate level to understand the business? And what are the possible contracts that would get awarded? And how are we insulated in case they are -- when they are not just like in this case of UKVI?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [3]

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Correct. Shikhar this side. So let me first tell you that there is no fallout with Sopra Steria, and it was not that we lost this business. We ourselves gave up the business. I will tell you the exact reason for it was. When we started the contract, when we were making our assumptions, it was based on some value-added services or extra services that we will get from the government, which the government had mentioned in the contract. But because the change in scenario in terms of the Brexit and in terms of change in political scenario there, the approval, they said that you can start only 3 out of those services right now and the other services you can start in a phased manner. So we were waiting for those services to start on the basis of which our revenue model was based, but those services got delayed. The approval did not come. So that is the reason as a company we decided that, going forward, that it is a chance that, because of the new political environment in U.K., these services might get approved or might not and we do not want to take part in the future losses. So that is the reason we performed this contract very well. We even have a certificate from U.K. government specifying that we have done the work very well and they have given us experience certificate. We've still maintained very good relations with our partner, Sopra Steria, from which we are thinking of doing other projects in other geographies also. The due diligence for us in every project is the same. Before taking a project, we do complete due diligence, but if there is a change in political environment of any government, that is one thing which is out of our scope. So that is the only thing that happened in this contract.

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Vikas Jain, [4]

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All right. My next question is about the cash that we hold, Shikhar. We hold substantial amount of cash in our balance sheet. So looking at the current market scenario and the turmoil that the share prices have faced on the exchange, so is company expecting something as a buyback kind of thing to restore shareholders' confidence in the business?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [5]

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See, we have the cash in the business. As we know -- as you know, the good opportunities are rising in the market wherein some visa outsourcing companies are coming up for sale, which are in the same field of business as BLS. So -- and also in the next 2 years, as we see, the contracts that we are bidding for, we would require some cash for doing investments in terms of technology. That is the reason we are holding to this cash.

Amit, do you have something to add on this?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [6]

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No. See, current scenario, the way market is, 2 things are happening. From the external market, we are looking at good opportunities which may come in, in the next couple of months. And from the point of contract, which we are bidding now are of, see, a big size which we want to go for. If you see Punjab, where we have receivables in our book, but still we managed to get those through, was only because of the funds which we had on the balance sheet, and balance sheet was strong enough. And secondly, you need preoperating requirements for big contracts where you have to have a gestation period of around 3 to 6 months to start generating cash. So we want to keep that and make sure if those opportunity comes, we don't immediately have to go in for any fundraising.

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [7]

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Just to correct, Amit, not charged as cash, but charged under profit. First we generate cash from day 1. Rakesh, you can also add.

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [8]

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Yes. Just to be very specific to your reply, 2 answers. 2 tracks that we are following is the cash is there to either address some inorganic growth that we have on our mind. And also within the current setup, if we land up with a larger project that we are pursuing, then there would be certain investments required in terms of back-end development of some technology as well as some assets that you would probably need to build up to address that. So broadly, these are the 2 reasons and which -- for which we do not have any other plans than this as of now. Thank you.

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Operator [9]

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(Operator Instructions) The next question is from the line of [Shekhar Mundra] who is an individual investor.

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Unidentified Participant, [10]

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So 2 of my questions have actually been answered by the previous participant's questions. So just wanted to understand about the Punjab business. What were the revenues we generated from those business this quarter? And what were the margins? Is it in line with the previous margins? Or has there been a change?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [11]

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No. See the business model has changed. Earlier model was on annuity-based model, where we were investing big amount. Shikhar can explain you on the old model.

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [12]

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But he's asking about the revenue.

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [13]

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Margins have changed. The EBITDA margins have changed because in the earlier model, we were getting return on our fixed assets also. And in the new model what is happening, we are -- all the collections are coming to us, that is our sales and revenue is generated on the basis of what we do to the sales.

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [14]

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And assets are provided by the government. Our new EBITDA margin is around 15% to 16%.

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [15]

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15% new EBITDA margin, which used to be around near to 18%, 19% in the old business model.

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [16]

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And revenue in the new Punjab contract, we are generating around INR 5 crores revenues per month with the EBITDA margin that we have been talking about. That is EBITDA margin we are generating.

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Unidentified Participant, [17]

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Perfect. All right. So basically our margins have dipped a little compared to the old model, but the cash requirement has gone down for the...

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [18]

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Correct, correct. Absolutely. So now in this contract, the advantage is that no infrastructure is provided by BLS. Everything is provided by the government. So that is the beauty of this contract. Only the people, the training is done by us and all the cash is collected by BLS.

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [19]

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So we have no problem for receivables.

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [20]

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Just to add to that, this as Rakesh. This is becoming far more risk-free for us. There are no receivables beyond levels of management. So on that -- yes, on that bid also, our stretch is much less than what it used to be earlier. So that is -- operating mechanisms are far better.

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [21]

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Basically it is a negative working capital now.

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [22]

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Yes.

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Unidentified Participant, [23]

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All right. And -- so it's like a INR 15 crore quarterly business. So do we see it growing at some pace? Or is it saturated? How do you see it, I mean?

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [24]

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See, it's not saturated. The reason is that there are -- every month, government is adding new services versus the contract as well as different departments of the government are getting integrated. The back-end has to be integrated first to provide these services at our centers. So I think there is still scope for at least 30% services to be added. And on top of that, there is a big scope of value-added services in this contract, which we have already started from last couple of months. The number of value-added services that we are selling or yield where application is going up as we speak. So there is a scope of growth in this contract.

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Unidentified Participant, [25]

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And what about the number of applications or the footfall? How do we see that growing?

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [26]

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That is also -- see, as you get the more services from the government, footfall will also grow according to that. So, for example, high-ticket items which has a big footfall, as soon as those departments get integrated on our platform, our, like, transports, like, different departments, so all these services will also lead to increase the number of application and increase in footfall in our centers.

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Unidentified Participant, [27]

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All right. And in the opening commentary, we talked about the other opportunities also coming up for the states, just like Punjab. So can you just give -- elaborate on that?

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [28]

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See there are 2, 3 states which we are talking to right now, which are planning to come out on tender, the same basis as a new Punjab contract. Right now, as a company, we are only interested in models wherein there is upfront collection of cash from the citizens and 0 dependence on the governments for any money. So we are only looking at those models.

So even though governments are coming out with different kinds of tenders, we are not looking at aggressive growth just -- since we have learned in last 2, 3 years, wherein we could be dependent on the government for money. So at BLS now, we are completely focused on generating our EBITDA margins. It is very easy to bid any contract at cost or below cost and just to showcase growth, but we are not interested in that. We want to showcase -- we want to get long-term profitable growth, so that is why we are only looking at contracts, which give us the desired EBITDA margins and no receivables from the government.

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Unidentified Participant, [29]

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All right. And regarding the UKVI, so this onetime impairment loss was basically on the sale of asset. Is that right, the...

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [30]

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Correct. That was assets and -- we are talking about intangible assets also and the offices that we have taken over there, the furnitures, fixtures that we had put there.

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [31]

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So winding costs, we have to close those. So that cost has all been...

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Unidentified Participant, [32]

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Okay, okay. Got it. And for the core visa business, how do we see the growth in the existing application itself? And in the probability of adding -- in the possibility of adding new visa clients or...?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [33]

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If you see our numbers, if you deduct the onetime operational loss of UKVI and the impairment loss, we have actually grown at the PAT level also. So that is all in all, our visa business as Punjab now contributes lesser than what it used to. So now we are as bullish on the visa business as we were before. The number of applications have grown. So I would say, organically, visa business is growing at least 10% to 15% every year for us as a company. So irrespective of -- even for the next 2, 3 years, if we are at the same situation, we are -- the company will tie and target to grow at least 10% to 15% level organically. And if we add new tenders or there is inorganic acquisition, then obviously the growth opportunity is much more.

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Unidentified Participant, [34]

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Right. And just wanted to understand for the visa business, like we must be getting some contracts for maybe some fixed number of years, like. So for, let's say, for Spain, let's say, for 4 to 5 years. So what is the possibility of not -- at the end of the contract -- of losing that contract or not getting it renewed? So how do we look at that?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [35]

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Any business you do and be it road manufacturing, it's a contracting business. If you are experienced, if you already know the client, then the opportunity to renew the contract increases drastically. So we have been in this business for the last 15 years. We are working for more than 30 clients. Every year there are some wins, some losses, some new wins. So the cycle keeps on going. And obviously if you have been running a contract, the chances of knowing the client, knowing the problems, the solution increases. So we are managing to retain all of them and we are very bullish on our growth and our steady growth.

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Operator [36]

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The next question is from the line of Chirag Vekaria from Budhrani Finance.

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Chirag Vekaria, [37]

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Sir, just wanted to get a sense, can you give a breakup of the top line, both for the quarter and for the half year, in terms of the application business, the Punjab business?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [38]

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I think so basically, Punjab business is...

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Chirag Vekaria, [39]

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Hello?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [40]

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Hello? The Punjab billing model has changed. It has come down to 10% to 12% of the Punjab business. Then there is about...

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [41]

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About INR 20 crores.

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [42]

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Yes, and then there is another 5% other businesses. And then the balance is from the visa business, basically.

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Chirag Vekaria, [43]

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Okay. The previous caller, you were saying that the application business is growing. What is contributing? Which geography is contributing to the growth?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [44]

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See, the growth in visa business globally, so there's no particular geography. There are a lot of developing countries where the volume has increased, where people are traveling more. So there's no certain geography, but countries like Russia, China, Africa, the growth is much more because travelers are traveling more from those countries.

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Chirag Vekaria, [45]

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Okay, okay. And -- so on the other income part, I wanted to understand. You have a cash balance of around roughly INR 200 crores. Why is the other income so, so less, around INR 1.4 crores? I mean is this coming up for the full year?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [46]

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Yes. See, basically, this return on this money in foreign currency, as you know, their interest rates are quite low. We are not taking any risk in investing in risky investments. We are keeping it in cash and fixed deposits only. And they are giving a return of around 2.5% to 3% currently because of the interest rates are quite low currently.

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Chirag Vekaria, [47]

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Okay, okay. And sir, in note number 4, what you have written is the group has recognized a profit of around INR 33.8 crore. So just wanted to understand you have written the confirmation from Punjab government is awaited. If the government does not approve it, what happens? Do we write it off? Do we book loss?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [48]

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What is has on?

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Chirag Vekaria, [49]

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Note number 4?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [50]

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So see, basically, we have done the billing as per the contracts. Punjab, when they took over the old contracts, all the assets were sold to them as per the contract payment terms. Now they are reviewing those calculations and once they are finalized then the auditor wanted to highlight that, that this is still under process of their finalization of those -- the calculations.

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [51]

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See even if you talk about outstanding, from day 1, we have been bullish that we will collect all the money. Last year's outstanding was more than INR 250 crores to INR 300 crores. We are now sitting at INR 70 crores. Even everyone raised a concern, but we were bullish that the government has promised every quarter that they will give us INR 25 crores and they have been paying. So all the money that has been due will come to us. Auditors -- obviously because of the independent auditors that they are, they will do all their compliances and write accordingly.

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Chirag Vekaria, [52]

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Okay, sir. So as we understand, you have written off this UK, the write-off that you were supposed to do? For the year ahead, you don't have any other things to write it off, right?

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [53]

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Nothing, nothing. Won't comment on.

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Operator [54]

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The next question is from the line of [Manoj Kumar], who is an individual investor.

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Unidentified Participant, [55]

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Hello sir. Can you hear me?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [56]

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Yes.

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Unidentified Participant, [57]

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I am calling from Canada as I learned from your business from here. It's about 2:30 here, sir. And my question is, out of the revenue, how much the revenue the Punjab government is [going to generate] for your business as of yesterday?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [58]

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We just mentioned that already, 10% to 15%.

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Unidentified Participant, [59]

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10% to 15%. And this is profitable, right?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [60]

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Definitely.

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Unidentified Participant, [61]

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And how long does your contracts last? Like, for example, the Canada one and this Punjab one, just curious.

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [62]

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You're talking about the contract with Punjab government? For 5 years.

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Unidentified Participant, [63]

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Yes, yes. 5 years. And it started in 2018?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [64]

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Yes, it started in August 2018.

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Operator [65]

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(Operator Instructions) The next question is from the line of [Harshad Gandhi], who is an individual investor.

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Unidentified Participant, [66]

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Hello?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [67]

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Yes.

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Unidentified Participant, [68]

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So you were talking about shift in business model. Sir, wanted to know like what is our business model going to be in the next 3 to 5 years? And are you planning to grow organically? So what is our broad vision?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [69]

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No, there is no shift in business model, first of all. Our business model is completely the same. I was talking about the Punjab contract, the first Punjab contract that we had won. There was a subsidized model wherein -- annuity model wherein the government would pay us the deficit if the number of applications were not achieved, in which we also targeted within 2 years the number of applications would be higher, so we would actually have to pay to the government. But unfortunately, circumstance changed and we got a new contract. So model shift is in the e-governance wherein we are only targeting at the contracts where we can earn money directly from the citizens. We're not dependent on the money from the government. So this answers I think your question? Hello? Can you hear us?

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Unidentified Participant, [70]

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Yes, I hear you. Hello? Can you hear me, sir?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [71]

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Yes, yes, we can hear you well. Does that answer your question?

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Unidentified Participant, [72]

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Yes, sir, it does. So I also wanted to ask you that we are -- like now you are saying you want to focus on the margins rather than bidding contracts. So what would be our target margins? What is it today, probably like in the next 3 years?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [73]

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15%.

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Amit Sudhakar, BLS International Services Limited - CFO [74]

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15% to 17% EBITDA margins.

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Unidentified Participant, [75]

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Okay, okay. And so in order to like, we are obviously going to be working to get that. How are we planning to grow in terms of our revenue? Like what region or geography you're going to focus more? Like, where is maximum revenue going to be coming from?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [76]

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See, maximum revenue as we see now is coming from -- primarily, it was coming from developed countries. They are the clients. But developing countries, where people are traveling more, if you look at visa markets, the number of applications are more and the revenue is coming more from those countries. So we are targeting those geographies, China, Russia, Africa.

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Operator [77]

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(Operator Instructions) The next question is from the line of Maan Vardhan Baid from Laurel Investment Advisors.

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Maan Vardhan Baid, [78]

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Just wanted to understand that in reasonably quick succession, it has so happened that 2 of the contracts that we've entered into with a lot of optimism have seen changes in terms of the terms that we entered into or in terms of sort of the perception that we had in terms of how those contracts will pan out. So just wanted to get some insight as to the process, the kind of sort of paperwork, the kind of buffer that we keep within the organization so that one is prevented from bearing the costs of such contracts getting canceled, I mean both ways, one, the time and the energy that the firm spends on procuring these contracts and, two, the actual monetary losses. What are the steps that we are taking there?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [79]

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Shikhar this side. So please let me answer this question. First of all, I would like to tell you that we -- for the first contract, it was basically one for the Punjab contract, it was a very profitable contract for us and we have generated huge margins in that contract and we have booked all the income, as you know, in the previous years. And at one point, there was INR 300 crores outstanding and now only INR 70 crores -- or INR 65-odd crores outstanding is left, which will be paid to us in next 2, 3 quarters. So it's a high profit contract for us, which we have generated all the money. So I think we are very happy. Only the thing was that there was a new government -- change in government, which was out of our control, which they changed the model, but they are very happy with our service. So they again awarded us the new contract, which was a smaller -- shorter version of the previous contract. So we are very happy with what -- the first contract because we generated huge margins.

For the new government, it was a big opportunity for us as a company and think also that we will earn good revenue, good margins. But we did not expect that what was mentioned in the contract that these services that would be awarded to us and we would start on a particular day, we did not envision that government could delay approval for those services, already part of the contract, because it so happened because of the change in political environment in the U.K., the government decided to withhold -- or they still did not say no to the services, but they said it will be delayed. But our company, having limited cash on the books, we did not have capacity to burn any more cash. And we thought that going forward, things might change or might not change. That is the only reason we did not take up the U.K. contract.

And going forward, as from before, all our contracts are properly vetted before we enter into -- all our bids are properly vetted. As you know, we are now targeting as before minimum EBITDA margins to generate from these contracts. And obviously after going through this contract, we will become more averse to going into contracts, which is dependent on money from the government.

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Maan Vardhan Baid, [80]

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So how can we -- I mean since most of our business comes from government, I mean, obviously, we can change the revenue model slightly and collect it from the consumers as is the case with the visa services that we offer. But the contract is primarily offered by the government. So how does one insulate oneself from the inconsistencies? Like, let's say, a change of government or, let's say, a change in terms of the approach that the government takes towards a particular service, a public outcry towards the charges that we are levying to the public? How does one sort of...

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [81]

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Yes. I think that's a very valid question. And as you speak, we are still learning. From the previous contracts, we have learned quite a few things. And you know what we are doing is, we are very -- we are strengthening our legal team. And the contracts that we negotiate with the government, we are trying to put more and more of these clauses if there is a worst-case scenario of change or if there's a scenario wherein there's a public outcry or if there's a scenario wherein the number of applications that we targeted are not being provided to us, what is the possibilities? So I think this is what we are trying to do best. From our learnings, we are trying to strengthen our legal team. We are trying to make the contracts more stronger, so that is the -- so everyone sticks to it. This is all we can do, I think, for now.

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Maan Vardhan Baid, [82]

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Okay. So now in terms of strengthening our legal team, what are the changes that we have made on Board? Who were we working with earlier? Who are we working with now?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [83]

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Correct. Yes. So now what we have done is, we have, first of all, strengthened our in-house legal team. Secondly, we have started a panel of legal lawyers or legal companies across the world. For example, if we are now negotiating a contract with a different geography, we contact the local lawyer of that region, the top law firms and they completely vet the contracts that we are going to sign with the government. That was also done before, but not probably at such a detailed level. So all this -- now from our learnings, we are now being sure that this -- the mistake is not repeated in the future whatever we have done in the past.

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Maan Vardhan Baid, [84]

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And just sort of something more specific to the industry that we are in. Have we seen our peers face similar situations? And if so, where have they happened?

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [85]

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See, in the visa outsourcing market, I've seen normally steady markets, if you talk about the conventional visa market. But I think in different geographies and e-governance, obviously there has been many cases. I don't remember off hand any case.

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [86]

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Shikhar, let me. So this is Rakesh. I'll be very specific to your query on our hedging practice towards the risk and the vagaries this business brings to us. So like us, even our competition, in their endeavor to expand their business, have gone into new territories and they have had their own learning curves of a similar nature. The good thing is that in our learning, what we have done is, we have changed the model to adjust like money -- cash getting received from the customer, who is the government, to cash being received directly from the consumer and then sharing to -- bringing it to a model of shared benefits to the government as well as us, and this is becoming successful in Punjab and that model from the central government is being replicated in the other states. So that gives us some idea of expanding the business in the same model is what we are pursuing.

In terms of the international practice, if you see our visa business has been steady. It has been growing well. It has been bringing cash to us. But in our endeavor to get into something, which is like the UKVI business, which is not exactly in the same genre, but a little different, there were some learning. And to assure you that learning is giving us strength to address that kind of a market also through what Mr. Shikhar just told you, bringing in the legal expertise to tie in those variables, which brings the consequences at a later end in a right way. So some of the good legal firms have advisories. So now we have a robust tendering system and a contracting system in the bidding stage itself, which insulates us from some of those omissions, which had happened. Does that answer your question?

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Maan Vardhan Baid, [87]

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Yes.

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Operator [88]

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The next question is from the line of Vikas Jain from Financial Quotient.

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Vikas Jain, [89]

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I'm really sorry, but it looks like that my question has already been answered because one of my fellow participant asked that question.

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Operator [90]

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All right. Thank you very much. That was the last question in queue. As there are no further questions, I would now like to hand the conference over to Mr. Rakesh Amol for closing comments.

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Rakesh Amol, BLS International Services Limited - MD & Additional Director [91]

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Good. Thank you, everyone, for your participation in our Q2 F '20 earnings call. In case of any further queries, you may get in touch with Pareto Capital Advisors or feel free to get in touch with us. We look forward to interacting with you next quarter with some more good news. Thank you.

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Shikhar Aggarwal, BLS International Services Limited - Joint MD & Executive Director [92]

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Thank you.

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Operator [93]

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Thank you very much. On behalf of BLS International, that concludes this conference. Thank you for joining us. Ladies and gentlemen, you may now disconnect your lines.