Making Money on Refugees is All About "Volume"

More asylum seekers. More money.

The left loves to take close looks and dig into who is making money from wars. Here's a limited look from the Wall Street Journal at who is cashing in on the "refugee" crisis.

The annual report in 2013 from a multibillion-dollar London private-equity firm that counts a French pastry baker and a Dutch shoemaker among its holdings touted a new opportunity with “promising organic and acquisitive growth potential.”

That investment was the management of refugee camps.

“The margins are very low,” said Willy Koch, the retired founder of the Swiss company, ORS Service AG, which runs a camp in Austria that overflowed this summer with migrants who crossed from the Balkans and Hungary. “One of the keys is, certainly, volume.”

And we certainly have volume. Lots of it.

If you're invested in refugee camp management, all you need to do is find a way to trigger the flow of refugees. It's cheap stuff. A tweet here or there. Kick in a little more to a leftist NGO that works with refugees. Hire some unemployed students to stand around waving "Welcome Refugees" banners.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Koch was a temporary-employment executive when he hit upon an opportunity: staffing a shelter for asylum seekers near the Swiss city of Basel.

The customers—governments—were dependable payers, and the source of demand—global conflict and upheaval—showed no sign of drying up. He built a company, ORS Service, and won contracts over rivals such as the Red Cross and Christian charities by promising to work more efficiently and avoiding taking political stands...

London-based private-equity firm Equistone Partners Europe Ltd.—which touted the opportunity in its annual report—bought the business for an undisclosed sum in 2013. The firm has raised close to $4 billion for two buyout funds since spinning out of British bank Barclays PLC in 2011. Equistone’s investors include American public pension funds California State Teachers’ Retirement System and Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, and the General Organization for Social Insurance of Saudi Arabia.

And those just happen to have the same position on the "refugees."

ORS has expanded from Switzerland into Austria and Germany, competing with the nonprofit organizations that traditionally cared for migrants in Europe. The company recorded revenue of $99 million last year, according to Chief Executive Stefan Moll-Thissen, who wouldn’t disclose its profits.

The company now offers a range of refugee-related services, from setting up shelters to providing food and managing the camps. In Austria, the company won the right in 2011 to manage all of the federal government’s asylum-seeker shelters. The government, trying to cope with the more than 65,000 asylum applicants it has received since January 2014, paid ORS some $24 million last year to run camps housing the people.

ORS’s contractual obligations include offering German classes, providing special protection for minors and teaching refugees Austrian values such as “the importance of punctuality and reliability.” The government pays ORS a set rate for every camp it runs plus an additional price for every asylum seeker it houses.

More asylum seekers. More money.

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