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March 28, 2024

BYJU’S-Owned Aakash Institute Charts New Course: Chaudhry’s Return Unlikely as Pai Takes the Helm

In a significant turn of events, BYJU’S-owned Aakash Institute appears to be steering towards a new leadership trajectory with Aakash Chaudhry unlikely to resume his role as chief executive officer (CEO) at the renowned brick-and-mortar coaching firm.

According to reports, the board and management council of Aakash, in collaboration with prominent investor Ranjan Pai, are poised to guide the business forward, potentially under the stewardship of a new chief executive. This decision marks a departure from earlier discussions where there was contemplation regarding the promoters’ return to spearhead daily operations, with Pai emerging as the primary investor in the company.

Despite the shift in leadership dynamics, the Chaudhry family retains approximately 11% ownership in Aakash, while investment giant Blackstone holds 7% of the stake. The remaining ownership is divided between Byju Raveendran and Think & Learn.

Ranjan Pai’s involvement in Aakash Institute dates back to November 2022 when he infused approximately $200 million into the firm to aid BYJU’S in settling its outstanding loan to Davidson Kempner. It’s reported that Pai’s total investment in Aakash, including equity conversions finalized previously, stands at around $300 million. Pending clearance from the Competition Commission of India, Pai is expected to join the Aakash board, aligning with the business’s strategic direction.

At present, the executive council overseeing the daily operations of the coaching center business comprises Raveendran, the founder of Think & Learn, along with key executives such as Anup Kumar Agrawal (CBO) of Aakash and Sachin Saxena, the CHRO. Additionally, Arjun Mohan, CEO of BYJU’S India, is reported to be involved to some extent in Aakash’s operations.

Sources close to the matter emphasize the current focus on fortifying the business’s foundation and driving growth. “The focus right now is to put the heads down and build the business. If this doesn’t remain, nothing else will matter. Significant capital has been invested for it to grow now,” a source commented.

Aakash Education’s operating revenue is anticipated to have surpassed the INR 2,000 crore mark in the financial year ending March 31, 2023, as reported by Inc42. According to Aakash’s valuation report filed with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the coaching institute is projected to report an operating revenue of INR 2,325.1 crore in the same financial year.

This reported surge in operating revenue, from INR 1,421.2 crore in FY22, would signify an impressive 63% growth trajectory. However, it appears that the actual operating revenue in FY23 fell short of initial estimates, as it did not reach the projected INR 3,000 crore. Nonetheless, this underscores BYJU’S commitment to bolstering Aakash Institute’s position in the education landscape.

In the wake of these developments, the industry awaits further insights into the strategic roadmap that BYJU’S-owned Aakash Institute will chart under the guidance of Ranjan Pai and the newly appointed leadership, as it continues to evolve and redefine educational paradigms in India.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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