Aakash Chaudhry may return as CEO of Aakash Educational Services

Aakash Chaudhry's return is likely linked to a stock-swap deal involving BYJU'S parent company, Think and Learn Pvt Ltd, as part of Akash's acquisition in 2021.

Aakash Chaudhry may return as CEO of Aakash Educational Services

Monday October 16, 2023,

3 min Read

BYJU'S test-prep unit, Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL), could see the return of Aakash Chaudhry, AESL’s co-promoter and co-founder, as chief executive officer (CEO), as part of an arrangement, according to a media report.

This arrangement is likely linked to the finalisation of a stock-swap deal with BYJU'S parent company, Think and Learn Pvt Ltd, as part of AESL’s acquisition about two years ago, The Economic Times reported.

Having served as the CEO until November 2020 while AESL was independently run by the Chaudhry family, Chaudhry is likely to replace Abhishek Maheshwari, the recent CEO who departed the test-prep firm last month.

In 2021, BYJU’S acquired AESL for approximately $950 million, with around 70% of the deal paid in cash and the remaining portion meant to be adjusted against Think and Learn's equity.

Collectively, the Chaudhry family (~18%) and private equity firm Blackstone Group (~12%) hold a 30% stake in AESL, while Think and Learn owns 43%, and its founder, Byju Raveendran, owns 27%.

In August, it was reported that Blackstone and the Chaudhry family have declined to exchange their equity holdings in the test preparation subsidiary unit for shares in Think and Learn Pvt Ltd.

According to The Economic Times, ongoing discussions indicate that, in resolving the shareholding issue, Chaudhry is likely to retain about 9% in AESL and end up with approximately 8% in Think and Learn, with the transaction set to be finalised this month, resulting in Think and Learn owning a minimum of 51% in AESL post the transaction.

YourStory has reached out to BYJU'S and AESL Co-founder Aakash Chaudhry for comments.

Meanwhile, Ranjan Pai, Chairman of Manipal Education and Medical Group, is considering investing around $250 million to $300 million in AESL. Following the completion of the transaction, Raveendran's stake in AESL is expected to decrease to approximately 12%, the report added.

In September, BYJU’S-owned AESL established an executive council to identify and appoint a new CEO and a CFO after the departure of Maheshwari and Vipan Joshi, respectively.

These developments come at a time when BYJU'S new CEO, Arjun Mohan, is in the final stages of a business restructuring exercise aimed at simplifying operating structures, reducing overall costs, and enhancing cash flow management.

Moreover, the firm is addressing the repayment of its $1.2-billion term loan B debt and considering the sale of assets like Epic and Great Learning to generate a minimum of $800 million.

The Bengaluru-based company is expected to disclose its audited FY22 earnings report in October.

Edited by Megha Reddy