Indian edtech decacorn Byju’s is inching close to raising a USD 400–600 million pre-IPO funding round that will value the company at USD 21 billion.
The fundraising, which may materialize in the next few weeks, is likely to be split “roughly evenly” between equity and debt, as per a Bloomberg report. The development comes two weeks after local media reports said the Bengaluru-headquartered company had begun discussions with Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc., and JPMorgan Chase & Co to list its shares.
These investment banks have reportedly proposed a valuation of USD 40–50 billion for the listing, for which the company may file documents as early as the second quarter of next year, the report said. Earlier, Byju’s was looking at a timeline of 12 to 24 months, which means it has hastened its plans and joined a long list of high-profile companies like hospitality chain Oyo, e-commerce major Flipkart, and ride-hailing giant Ola that are looking to go public next year.
Investment bankers have also pitched alternatives such as an IPO in the U.S. or a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, although those options are less likely, the report noted.
“Byju’s has the potential to become a global leader in education technology, especially because Beijing’s recent reforms put severe restrictions on similar startups in China,” the report added, quoting a source. “This has drawn high levels of investor interest and suggests that its new target valuation of USD 21 billion is achievable.”
The decade-old company—backed by marquee investors like Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers, General Atlantic, Tencent, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, and Qatar Investment Authority—emerged as the country’s most valuable startup at USD 16.5 billion in June 2021 when it raised USD 350 million round from UBS, racing past the SoftBank-backed payments platform Paytm.
Byju’s, which is also the world’s most valuable edtech firm, saw its consolidated losses widen to INR 2.62 billion (USD 35.6 million) in the financial year ended March 2020 from INR 89 million (USD 1.2 million) in the previous fiscal year, while its revenue from operations soared 82.31% to INR 23.81 billion (USD 323.6 million).
This is partly because the company has been in growth mode on the back of an acquisition spree. Byju’s has scooped up eight edtech companies this year, including offline coaching chain Aakash Institutes, higher education startup Great Learning, direct competitor Toppr, and US-based digital-book reading platform Epic. Earlier this year, it also ventured into overseas markets by making its live online learning platform available in the US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico.