In a move to rejuvenate Byju’s struggling test-prep subsidiary, Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL), Ranjan Pai, Chairman of Manipal Education and Medical Group, has injected $168 million. The strategic investment not only aids Byju’s in settling its debt with Davidson Kempner but also marks the exit of private equity firm Blackstone from Aakash.
The investment by Ranjan Pai’s family office involves taking over the debt exposure of Davidson Kempner in AESL, addressing the corporate hangover caused by the loan dispute. Pai is also in talks to invest an additional $350 million in Byju’s, a move that could mark significant milestones for Byju’s parent Think and Learn.
As part of the larger deal, Pai’s family office acquired the debt held by Davidson Kempner in AESL for $168 million (INR 1,400 crore). This move also paves the way for private equity firm Blackstone to exit Aakash Educational Services within a month.
Ranjan Pai’s Stake Acquisition and Aakash Chaudhry’s Role
Ranjan Pai will acquire around 30 percent stake in Aakash Educational Services for $350 million within a month, further securing control over the company. This strategic move comes in response to Davidson Kempner declaring a default on the loan, jeopardizing Byju Raveendran’s position.
Aakash Chaudhry, the founder of Aakash Educational Services, will retain approximately 9 percent stake in the company after the transactions. Chaudhry is returning as the chief executive of Aakash, and the settlement includes a share swap between Chaudhry and Think & Learn, along with the sale of a portion of his stake to Ranjan Pai.
Background on Byju’s Loan Dispute
The loan dispute between Byju’s and Davidson Kempner dates back to May 2023, when Byju’s signed a $250 million (INR 2,000 crore) round from Davidson Kempner. However, an alleged loan covenant breach triggered a dispute, leading to negotiations to settle the matter.
Byju’s is paying around INR 1,400 crore to Davidson Kempner, with Ranjan Pai facilitating the settlement in a bilateral debt transaction. The settlement also involves Pai’s family office purchasing all the non-convertible debentures (NCDs) of Davidson Kempner.
Blackstone’s exit from Aakash Educational Services is part of a broader financial strategy by Byju’s, which includes divesting subsidiaries such as Epic and Great Learning to settle dues with overseas lenders. Byju’s reported a robust standalone revenue of INR 3,569 crore in FY22, reflecting significant growth from INR 1,552 crore the previous year.
Ranjan Pai’s intervention and strategic investments signal a positive turn for Byju’s and its subsidiary AESL. The settlement of the debt dispute with Davidson Kempner and Blackstone’s exit now positions Byju’s for a more stable future. The company’s focus on financial restructuring and growth underscores its commitment to the education technology sector.
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