Byju’s says it will aim for an IPO for test-prep arm Aakash in 2024

Aakash, the offline test preparation giant that Byju’s acquired in 2021 for a staggering $1Bn, will prep up to go public next year. The same was announced by its new parent Byju’s in a statement on Monday, and seems like a move to soften the financial turmoil and subsequent talks about the company’s financial future.

Interestingly, the announcement comes on a day where several news reports point to a possible default from the company on an unrated $1.2Bn loan, if a $40Mn coupon payment isn’t made today. Insiders say that the company is expected to make that payment, thus giving it enough room to further strategise on its next moves to shore up finances, and possibly look at a much larger financing round.

According to the statement released, Byju’s stated that Aakash Education Services Limited (AESL) revenue is set to reach ₹4,000 crore (~US$484Mn) with an EBITDA (operational profit) of ₹900 crore (~US$109mn) in the fiscal year 2023-23. “BYJU’S… will launch the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of its subsidiary, Aakash Education Services Limited (AESL) mid next year,” read the statement.

Byju’s has been in the news for quite some time now, largely for the massive valuation cuts that some of its biggest investors are making, along with financial misreporting that has been widely reported. The company has been under fire for several other reasons, including employees complaining about a high-pressure sales-driven work culture, along with controversial investments in sports branding when it wasn’t paying employees their dues. The IPO launch statement seems to be a way of perhaps taking the narrative in the right direction.

The official sanction for the IPO launch was given by the board of Byju’s. The statement also laid out the timeline of the plan and said that the appointment of the merchant bankers for the IPO will be announced soon to carry forward the listing process.

“The upcoming IPO will provide a significant capital infusion to bolster Aakash’s infrastructure, broaden its reach, and extend high-quality test-prep education to a larger number of students across the nation,” the statement said.

Aakash Institute was acquired by Byju’s in 2021, in a nearly $1Bn deal. The deal continues to be the largest such acquisition in the Indian education market, and added a significant revenue stream for Byju’s. Aakash currently runs over 325 centers across India, catering to over four hundred thousand students. Byju’s has talked about massive expansion plans for Aakash offline centers, with nearly doubling down of number of centers and reaching even more towns and cities across the country.

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