Byju Raveendran proposes formation of committee to provide strategic guidance in EGM

Byju Raveendran, founder of troubled edtech major Byju’s, in a recently held extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on July 4, addressed some of the most pressing concerns at the company. According to media reports, some of the major issues discussed include its ongoing negotiations with debt holders, updates on the audit completion timeline, and plans for forming a Board Advisory Committee (BAC). The meeting was addressed by Raveendran, co-founder and director Divya Gokulnath, and CFO Ajay Goel.

During the emergency meeting, anxious shareholders of the crisis-hit edtech major sought explanations and solutions from the founders and current management from the company. Despite this, we are unlikely to see a change in the top management anytime soon – two investors at Byju’s rejected reports that Raveendran had been told to step aside from his position as CEO of Byju’s.

Alan Kim, MD at Ark Impact Asset Management, and Saurabh Gupta – managing partner at DST Global – said that there was no discussion on ouster of Raveendran as CEO, and that the topic was not on the agenda of the EGM. This comes after certain sections of the media speculated that some investors sought the removal of Raveendran. “I confirm that potential CEO change was not a topic on the EGM agenda and was not discussed during the EGM on 3rd July 2023,” Kim said. The EGM was attended by a majority of Byju’s shareholders.

This EGM at Byju’s comes even as the company is going through a major crisis, and after its auditor and three of its board directors parted ways with the edtech firm. GV Ravishankar of Peak XV Partners (Sequoia Capital India), Russel Dreisenstock of Prosus and Vivian Wu of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, were the directors and represented some of the largest shareholders and the firm. They tendered their resignations owing to having differences with Raveendran. With their departures, Raveendran, his wife Divya Gokulnath, and brother Riju Raveendran are left as the only board members.

And if this was not enough, Byju’s auditor cut short its term and parted ways with the firm owing to a “long delay” in the company’s filing of its FY22 (2021-22) results. Byju’s later committed to file its audited earnings for the previous year by September 2022, but by then, it was too little too late. Goel, at the EGM, noted that the audit for most of the subsidiaries for FY22 had been completed, and the same for Aakash, WhiteHat Junior, and Think & Learn (Byju’s parent company) are currently ongoing.

Coming back to the emergency meeting, Raveendran spoke on the formation of a Board Advisory Committee (BAC), which will be tasked with advising and guiding the CEO when it comes to the composition of the board and the governance structure that is suitable for the edtech firm. The details of the members and composition of the BAC will be discussed at the next EGM, which is scheduled to take place in approximately three weeks.

“The BAC will serve as a working group consisting of independent directors with credible backgrounds and relevant experience from diverse corporate fields,” Raveendran told shareholders at the meeting.

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