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Byju’s acquires offline coaching firm Aakash Educational Services

Byju’s will be acquiring Aakash Educational Services, a chain of coaching centres with online and offline offerings, the edtech startup announced on Monday. Byju’s will be acquiring Aakash Educational Services, a chain of coaching centres with online and offline offerings, the edtech startup announced on Monday. Byju’s, which is valued at over $13 billion, will hold a majority stake in the company, while Aakash’s founders and investment group Blackstone will become shareholders in Byju’s.

While the company wasn’t forthcoming with the financials of the deal, TechCrunch reported that Byju’s paid close to $1 billion in cash and equity for the acquisition. The Economic Times speculated the merger to have cost the company around $700 million in cash and stock.

The “strategic merger” would help combine Aakash’s expertise in test-prep with Byju’s content and tech capabilities. “After the integration, Byju’s will make further investments to accelerate Aakash’s growth,” an official release said. Aakash Chaudhry, managing director of Aakash Educational Services, said that notwithstanding the merger, Aakash will continue to operate as a separate entity. “Together with BYJU’S, we will work towards building an omni-channel learning offering that will accelerate test-prep experience to the next level,” he said.

Byju Raveendran, founder and CEO of Byju’s, said, “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.” Raveendran told ET that Aakash would serve as the front-end of all of Byju’s test prep initiatives.

Amit Dixit, head of India private equity at Blackstone, an investment group which pumped nearly Rs 1,350 crore into Aakash in 2019 (taking Aakash’s valuation to $500 million), said, “We have always believed omni-channel will be the winning model in test prep and tutoring, and we look forward to being a part of the partnership between the two foremost companies in Indian supplementary education – Aakash and BYJU’S”.

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Speculation about Byju’s acquisition of Aakash has been in the news for many months. In January, Bloomberg reported that talks were ongoing between the two firms. In fact, only last week, Byju’s raised $460 million of funding, a major part of which was to be used to finance the Aakash deal, ET had reported.

Byju’s, which is currently among India’s most-valued startups, has been on an acquisition spree. Last year in August, in one of the biggest deals in recent times, the company acquired WhitehatJr, another edtech startup. The previous year, it acquired US-based Osmo, which makes educational games, for $120 million. The company is also reportedly set to acquire another Indian edtech startup Toppr for $150 million, according to a report by Entrackr.

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