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Byju”s acquires Aakash Educational Services for about $1 billion

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NEW DELHI: Byju”s has acquired test-prep leader Aakash Educational Services for nearly USD 1 billion (about Rs 7,300 crore) as India”s biggest online education startup looks to build its position in the brick and mortar segment.
The acquisition is Byju”s biggest and one of the largest ed-tech deals in the world. Post the transaction, Blackstone Group and Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL) founders will hold a minority stake in Byju”s, which is valued at about USD 13 billion.
Byju”s, the most valued ed-tech startup in the country, is backed by marquee investors like Mary Meeker, Yuri Milner, Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global and others. It is estimated to have raised over USD 2 billion in funding to date.
According to sources, Byju”s is also in talks to raise an additional USD 600-700 million in funding that will help in further growth acceleration.
In the past, Byju”s had acquired TutorVista and Edurite (from Pearson in 2017) and Osmo in 2019. Last year, the General Atlantic-backed company had bought coding training platform WhiteHat Jr for USD 300 million.
The edu-tech space has seen strong growth globally with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as an inflection point. Many edu-tech companies, including Vedantu and Byju”s, have also raised funds in the past few months to accelerate their growth plans.
AESL Managing Director Aakash Chaudhry said the transaction with Byju”s is part cash and part equity deal.
“It is close to 60-65 per cent cash and the remaining equity…The overall deal value is close to about USD 1 billion,” he said during media interactions.
AESL and Byju”s started exploring a deal about 6-7 months ago.
“This will be the largest integration in the education space in India, especially in the startup space…COVID has really opened the gates to online education significantly and going forward, we believe that all kinds of models in education will exist in K-12, test prep and even in higher education,” Chaudhry told PTI.
Together with Byju”s, AESL will be able to provide students with the education it was providing but at a much larger scale with multiple delivery channels that can be innovated out of both ecosystems (online and offline), he added.
After the integration, Byju”s will make further investments to accelerate Aakash”s growth, he noted.
Chaudhry said AESL will continue to operate as a separate entity and further expand its presence in the country.
“At Aakash, we are looking to transform student experiences by steering innovative and digitally-enabled learning solutions. Together with Byju”s, we will work towards building an omnichannel learning offering that will accelerate test-prep experience to the next level,” he said.
In its over 33 years of existence, AESL has helped millions of students prepare for medical and engineering entrance exams. It has a pan-India network of 215 centres (including franchisees), and a student count of more than 2.5 lakh.
In 2019, private equity firm Blackstone had picked up a 37.5 per cent stake in AESL. While the company had not disclosed the financial details, sources said the Rs 1,350 crore transaction had valued AESL at USD 500 million (over Rs 3,545 crore).
“Our complementary strengths will enable us to build capabilities, create engaging and personalised learning programmes. The future of learning is hybrid and this union will bring together the best of offline and online learning, as we combine our expertise to create impactful experiences for students,” Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju”s, said.
The addition of Aakash is a significant step towards strengthening its product offering, he added.
Byju”s cited industry reports and said the test preparation and after-school tutoring (high school) segment is estimated to be a USD 7-8 billion opportunity in India and is expected to witness 55-60 per cent growth over the next 4-5 years.
On whether the ed-tech platform will continue to scout for acquisitions, Byju”s said the company will look at opportunities that bring in new products and formats, market expansion and/or distribution opportunities.
Launched in 2015, Byju”s has over 80 million students cumulatively learning from the app, 5.5 million annual paid subscriptions, and an annual renewal rate of 86 per cent. During April-September 2020, Byju”s added 45 million new students to its platform.

EY was the exclusive financial advisor for Byju”s on this transaction. Phoenix Advisors was the exclusive advisor to AESL.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Mobile Services

Pakistan temporarily suspends all social media platforms

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Friday temporarily suspended the services of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to stop their use to organise demonstrations following violent protests by a radical religious group that has now been banned by the government.

The government banned Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) on Thursday following three days of violent protest by it to force the government to expel the French ambassador over a blasphemous caricature published in France last year.

The TLP had launched the country-wide protest on Monday after the arrest of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.

The TLP supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies in several towns and cities earlier this week, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.

To stop the protests after Friday prayers, the Interior Ministry directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to suspend social media services for four hours from 11 am to 3 pm.

The PTA said in a notification that complete access to social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Telegram) may be blocked.

The reason for the suspension of the services was not stated by the PTA but official sources said that it was feared that protesters could use social media to organise demonstrations.

Suspension of internet and mobile phone services is a common practice in Pakistan to forestall protests and acts of terrorism.

But this time only social media has been particularly targeted as the TLP was reportedly using it effectively against the government action.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed warned the TLP against using YouTube to upload propaganda videos. The TLP came to prominence in November 2017 when it staged a sit-in at the Faizabad interchange near Islamabad and cut off the capital from the old international airport.

Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) was in the government then and Imran Khan, the current prime minister, and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party had supported the protest.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Spectrum Auction 2021: Telecom Department assigns frequencies to successful bidders

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NEW DELHI: Department of Telecom (DoT) today (16.04.2021) successfully completed the assignment of frequencies to successful bidders of the Spectrum Auction, 2021. Frequency assignment letters were issued to successful bidders today.

The frequency assignment was accompanied by a frequency harmonization exercise, whereby spectrum blocks assigned to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) in the current spectrum auction have been made contiguous with the spectrum blocks already held by them, wherever possible, in various bands in different Licensed Service Areas (LSAs).

The harmonization of spectrum was accomplished in 19 LSAs in 800 MHz band, 8 LSAs in 900 MHz band, 21 LSAs in 1800 MHz band, 3 LSAs in 2100 MHz band, and 16 LSAs in 2300 MHz band.The harmonization exercise facilitates more efficient utilization of spectrum held by TSPs, leading to improved Quality of Service for consumers.

As a part of the frequency assignment, the Government has also accepted the request of two TSPs – M/S Bharti and M/S Reliance Jio, for assignment of immediately available unsold spectrum blocks in place of spectrum blocks in the same band and LSA assigned to them from later dates. An amount of Rs. 2306.97 crore (Rs. 157.38 crore from M/s Bharti and Rs. 2149.59 crore from M/s Reliance Jio) has been received immediately by the Government, rather than in August/ September, 2021.

It may be recalled that a total quantity of 855.60 MHz of spectrum in 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, and 2300 MHz bands was acquired by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) in the Spectrum Auction, 2021, conducted on 1st and 2nd March, 2021.

The total amount payable by the successful bidders for the total quantity of spectrum acquired is Rs 77820.81 crore.

Of this, an amount of Rs 21918.47 crore was received as upfront payment from the TSPs on 18th March, 2021, as per terms and conditions of the Notice Inviting Applications.

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Appointments

LTI appoints Anil Rander as its Chief Financial Officer

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NEW DELHI: Larsen & Toubro Infotech, a global technology consulting and digital solutions company has appointed Anil Rander as its Chief Financial Officer.

Anil is a seasoned finance leader with more than 27 years of multifaceted experience in driving business performance and growth. His expertise ranges across business and financial strategy formulation, fiscal management, corporate accounting, investor relations, pricing, risk management, internal audit and financial controls.

Sanjay Jalona, CEO & Managing Director, LTI, said “The role of CFO is evolving rapidly, and I am pleased to welcome Anil to our leadership team at this critical juncture in our journey. His financial leadership and business acumen will enable us to chart the next phase of growth for LTI. We remain committed to pushing industry benchmarks on business excellence.”

Anil joins LTI from Tech Mahindra where he was the Senior Vice President for Finance and Legal functions and Global Head of Finance for BPS. Before this role, Anil was with Hutchison Max Telecom Ltd where he looked after management accounting. His other stints have been with Alpic Finance and A.F. Ferguson & Co.

Anil is a Chartered Account, Cost Accountant and a Company Secretary. He has won multiple industry accolades for outstanding contributions during his illustrious career. He will be based out of LTI’s headquarter in Mumbai, India.

 

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