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Byju's eyes $1 billion IPO for physical tutor chain Aakash

Indian edtech giant Byju's is engaging with bankers to put together a plan for the initial public offering of its physical tutor chain unit Aakash, which it acquired last year, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The Bengaluru-headquartered firm is looking to raise $800 million to $1 billion in the initial public offering of Aakash at a valuation of over $3.5 billion, the source said, requesting anonymity as the details are private. The startup may file the paperwork for the IPO as early as February, the source said.

The deliberations are at an early stage, so the terms of the deal may change or get completely abandoned, the source cautioned. Byju's and its founder, Byju Raveendran, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A plan for the IPO of Aakash, which Byju's acquired for nearly $1 billion last year, comes as the group firm has postponed its own listing plan amid the global market downturn.

Byju's seriously explored going public earlier this year through the SPAC route at a valuation north of $40 billion, but changed the plan after the market dramatically reversed most of the gains from the past 13 years of the bull run.

Raveendran told TechCrunch in an earlier interview that Byju’s was watching the macro market conditions closely and will file for an IPO in nine to 12 months. “I don’t think the markets will turn this year,” he said at the time.

Byju's, which is the most valuable startup in India at $22 billion, spent over $2 billion in the past two years to acquire about a dozen firms, mostly outside of the South Asian market as it ramps up its offerings in the U.S. and Europe. With the group IPO away by over a year, the startup has raised nearly $1 billion this year. It unveiled the most recent tranche of that fundraise, $250 million, last month. That investment was raised on a convertible note with a cap on the valuation at about $22 billion, another source familiar with the matter said.

The startup has sought to cut its marketing budget and several other expenditures in recent months to become profitable by the end of the current financial year. Byju's also recently said that it will cut up to 2,500 jobs over the coming months.

Another reason why Byju's is considering listing Aakash on Indian stock exchanges is its apprehension about the consumer awareness of the Indian unit in the global markets, a person familiar with the matter said.

The 34-year-old Aakash runs a chain of physical coaching centres across India. Prior to the acquisition, the firm was planning to list in the country. Aakash, which has been profitable for years, is on track to clock a revenue of over $500 million by the financial year ending 2024, at a margin of 25%, the person familiar with the matter said.