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India's Byju's in talks to go public via SPAC deal at $48 billion valuation - source

By Reuters

By Chandini Monnappa

BENGALURU -Tiger Global-backed Byju’s is in talks for a U.S. listing through a deal with veteran dealmaker Michael Klein’s blank-check firm that could value the Indian edtech firm at $48 billion, a source told Reuters on Thursday.

Byju’s, which offers online education and caters to all age groups, has benefited by a boom in online education as schools and in-person classes were forced shut by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discussions with Churchill Capital’s special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) about the deal, that could happen in mid-2022, are in advanced stages with plans to raise around $4 billion, the source added.

While the negotiations are not final, Byju’s will also consider a dual listing and if the deal does not come through, the company could seek a listing in India next year, the source said.

Bloomberg News first reported on Thursday that Byju’s was in talks to go public via a SPAC deal.

Indian startups have been on a tear in 2021, with several of them entering the “unicorn” club of $1 billion valuation, while high-profile names such as digital payments firm Paytm, food delivery firm Zomato, fashion e-commerce company Nykaa have made their public market debuts via huge IPOs.

In the U.S., several companies have used the SPAC route to go public. SPACs, or special purpose acquisition companies, are publicly listed investment vehicles that have no operations and are raised with the intention of merging with a private company.

Earlier this year, top Indian startups like food delivery firm Swiggy and Byju’s wrote to the country’s Prime Minister asking him to expedite a policy that allowed Indian firms to list directly on foreign exchanges.

Byju’s, which also provides learning programs for competitive exams like Indian Administrative Services, has 50 million registered students and 3.5 million paid subscriptions, according to its website.

Bengaluru-based Byju’s, which counts U.S. investment firm Tiger Global, Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital India and BlackRock among its investors, declined to comment, while Churchill Capital did not immediately respond.