BYJU’S, the world’s most valuable edtech startup, has completed the acquisition of test prep service provider Aakash Educational Services Ltd (AESL). The reportedly $1 billion deal has been in the works since January.
Blackstone Group-backed AESL has been operational for 33 years, during which it has expanded its presence to 215 coaching centres across the country. It offers test prep services to students aspiring for medical and engineering entrance exams, school/board exams, KVPY, NTSE, Olympiads, and other Foundation level exams.
Following the merger, AESL founders JC Chaudhry and Aakash Chaudhry, and Blackstone Group stand to become shareholders in BYJU’S, whose valuation is nearing $15 billion.
“After the integration, BYJU’S will make further investments to accelerate Aakash’s growth,” the latter said in a statement.
Commenting on the deal, Byju Raveendran, Founder and CEO, BYJU’S said in a statement, “I am happy to have Aakash Educational Services Limited, a market leader and the most trusted name in the test-prep services, onboard with us. Our complementary strengths will enable us to build capabilities, create engaging and personalised learning programs. 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.”
Aakash Chaudhry, Managing Director, AESL, added,
“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 omni-channel learning offering that will accelerate test-prep experience to the next level.”
“While this partnership will enhance our operational verticals, Aakash will continue to operate as a separate entity with the same passion and commitment with which its Founder & Chairman J C Chaudhry incepted it,” he stated.
At present, BYJU’S caters to 80 million students through its personalised learning app, with 5.5 million annual paid subscribers and an annual renewal rate of 86 percent. AESL, meanwhile, transferred a section of its offline classes to the Aakash Digital app, which launched during the pandemic in June 2020.
Amit Dixit, Co-Head of Asia Acquisitions and Head of India Private Equity at Blackstone, summed up the joint opportunity by saying, “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.”