Byju’s pays $234 million to Blackstone related to Aakash deal – source

By Yuvraj Malik

(Reuters) – India’s Byju’s has paid 19 billion rupees ($234 million) to Blackstone Inc, settling its dues owed to the private-equity firm as part of a $950 million deal to buy Aakash Educational, a source directly involved with the deal said on Friday.

The payment made on Thursday was for a stake of about 38% owned by Blackstone in the learning center chain that Byju’s acquired in April 2021.

While closing the deal, Byju’s had paid all of Aakash’s shareholders, except Blackstone as the PE firm had agreed on deferred payment, the source said.

Blackstone did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The settlement of dues comes against the backdrop of surging losses at India’s popular edu-tech startup, which was last valued at $22 billion.

Tiger Global-backed Byju’s losses ballooned to 45.64 billion rupees ($574.06 million) for the fiscal year ended March 2021, while its revenue fell 3%.

The company was a big beneficiary of a spurt in demand for online learning during the pandemic and attracted investments from some of the biggest venture capital funds and financiers, including Sequoia Capital and Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, to fund its breakneck pace of growth.

Byju’s, which became one of the symbols of India’s startup success, has spent a combined $2.5 billion in fiscal year ended March 2022 to acquire companies such as Aakash, U.S.-based Epic, kids’ coding platform Tynker, professional education firm Great Learning and exam perpetration platform Toppr.

($1 = 81.1660 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Yuvraj Malik in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)