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CCI approves Byju’s acquisition of Aakash Educational Services

CCI approves Byju’s acquisition of Aakash Educational Services
Photo Credit: 123RF.com
8 Jun, 2021

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) late on Monday approved edtech decacorn Byju’s acquisition of Aakash Educational Services (AESL). 

“Commission approves the proposed combination of Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) and Think & Learn Private Limited (BYJU’s),” the country’s competition watchdog tweeted. 

The deal, officially announced in April, marks Byju’s formal foray into the offline test-prep market.

Aakash was founded in 1998 by JC Chaudhry and Aakash Chaudhry. New York headquartered private equity firm Blackstone Group had acquired a 37.5% stake in the company in 2019. 

AESL runs Aakash Institute, which is a chain of over 215 brick-and-mortar coaching centers that provides test preparatory services to students preparing for medical and engineering entrance exams, school/board exams, Olympiads, and other foundation level exams. 

Byju’s had said Aakash would continue to operate as an independent entity and further investments would be made in the Bengaluru-based company to accelerate its growth. 

According to a person directly aware of the transaction, Byju’s closed the cash-and-stock deal at nearly $950 million. It was a 60:40 cash-and-equity deal where Blackstone and Aakash founders will become shareholders in Byju's. 

A week before the deal, Byju’s raised over $455 million as part of a $1 billion growth funding round. Asset management firm Baron Funds, Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group and hedge fund XN Exponent Holding were among the investors. the round valued Byju’s parent Think & Learn at $15 billion. It had received $460 million in the previous month as part of the same Series F round. 

Aakash is Byju’s second large acquisition in less than a year. It scooped up coding platform WhitehatJr in a $300-million cash deal in August last year. 

Launched in 2015, Byju’s claims to have over 80 million students cumulatively learning via the app, 5.5 million annual paid subscriptions, and an annual renewal rate of 86%. In just six months during the lockdown, Byju’s said that it added 45 million new students on its platform.