Former Pearson India MD Deepak Mehrotra is appointed CEO by Byju's Aakash

By Consultants Review Team Monday, 08 April 2024

According to individuals who spoke to Moneycontrol, Byju's test prep company Aakash plans to choose Deepak Mehrotra, a former managing director of Pearson India, as its new CEO. This occurs almost seven months after the former Aakash CEO and CFO resigned in September of last year, leaving the role unfilled.

Mehrotra most recently served as Ashirvad Pipes' managing director for five years beginning in 2018. As to the information on his LinkedIn page, he left Ashirvad Pipes in September 2023. It is anticipated that Mehrotra's induction will soon be announced.

In April 2021, Byju's bought Aakash in a cash and stock transaction. With a 70% cash component and a 30% equity component, the deal would have given shares in Byju's parent company Think & Learn to Aakash promoters and Blackstone, a private equity group that owns approximately 12% of the business.

Since then, Byju's has utilized the positive proceeds from Aakash to offset its losses from past purchases, such as WhiteHat Junior and Osmo. Byju's Group CFO Nitin Golani stated that leveraging Aakash's profits for the company's general operations was not a "big deal" in a recent interview with Moneycontrol.

A shareholder dispute resulted in the resignations of CFO Vipan Joshi and CEO Abhishek Maheshwari in September 2023 when Byju's negotiated an equity exchange for the Aakash agreement with the Chaudhry family and Blackstone. After that, Akash formed a committee to choose the CEO of the tutoring company, a post that had been empty for the last seven months.

The news of Aakash Chaudhry's impending return to the role of CEO of the tutoring section comes months after it was first reported. Chaudhry is the promoter of Aakash Educational Services. Nevertheless, the negotiations broke down, even though Byju's is having financial difficulties.

The newly appointed CEO, Mehrotra, has previously held leadership roles and board memberships in organizations including the Airtel Mobility Board, Micromax Informatics Ltd., the Aliaxis Global Executive Committee, Pearson Emerging Markets MC, and IFFCO Kisan Sanchar (an Airtel-IFFCO JV).

At a time when Byju's, the parent business of Aakash, is in severe financial distress and unable to pay workers or maintain normal operations, Mehrotra is set to join Aakash. Along with its stakeholders, Byju's has encountered a number of issues with its board, auditors, investors, workers, and government agencies including the Enforcement Directorate, the Employees' Provident Fund Organization, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

According to the most recent development, Think and Learn has been ordered by an emergency arbitrator to refrain from selling around 6% of its subsidiary Aakash Education Services Limited because it has not returned approximately Rs 350 crore that it had received from the MEMG Family Office, run by billionaire Ranjan Pai.

Pai, the chairman of Manipal Group, was previously claimed by Moneycontrol to have invested $80-90 million in Byju's owned Aakash, acting as a rescuer for the beleaguered edtech company.

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