Blackstone (NYSE:BX) announced that private equity funds managed by Blackstone (“Blackstone”) have partnered with Aakash Educational Services Limited (“AESL”), to build India’s largest digitally enabled, omni-channel education company.
AESL is India’s largest medical test preparation provider with a network of more than 200 centers across 130 cities, teaching more than 250,000 students, along with a fast growing digital business. AESL was founded as Aakash Institute around three decades back by Mr. J.C. Chaudhry. AESL has demonstrated a consistent track record of results in both medical and engineering entrance examinations over the last three decades. In 2019, nine of the top ten NEET rank-holders were AESL students.
Mr. Aakash Chaudhry, Director and CEO of AESL, said:“AESL has grown tremendously, emerging as one of the largest and most trusted brands in the education sector. The entire management team is excited to partner with Blackstone, a leading alternative asset manager. We believe Blackstone is a like-minded partner that shares our values and culture. As we embark on the next trajectory of growth at AESL, Blackstone will complement our team with its deep expertise and network in the education sector globally and a team of highly accomplished professionals with a proven track record of creating value. Blackstone’s value creation has been visible already, as they have helped bring Deborah Quazzo, a leading education technology investor, onto the board of the company. Given Blackstone’s unique partnership philosophy, we engaged exclusively with the Blackstone team for this transaction. This investment is a testament to the dedication of our outstanding employees who have built this company by keeping with our founder’s motto of ‘Student First’.”
Mr. J.C. Chaudhry, Chairman and Managing Director of AESL said: “It is heartening to commence our partnership with the Blackstone Group, which is one of the world’s largest private equity firms. AESL has seen significant growth in the last decade, becoming one of the largest education companies in the country. By leveraging Blackstone’s global reach and expertise, this partnership will aid our push into newer areas and cutting-edge education technology, enabling us to deliver long-term value to our students, employees, investors and other stakeholders.”
Mr. Amit Dixit, Head of India Private Equity at Blackstone, said:“We are investing in AESL since it is the most scaled up test preparation business in India with a professional management team and best-in-class corporate governance. Live tutoring, whether in physical or online classrooms, has proven to be an effective model globally for delivering consistent results in standardized tests.
AESL has been a leader in this model in India, delivering exceptional results in NEET and JEE examinations year after year. Our thesis is to accelerate AESL’s push in online live tutoring, both organically and through acquisitions. We are excited to partner with Aakash and his management team to deliver on this vision.”
Mr. Amit Jain, Managing Director at Blackstone, said: “Unlike most other players, AESL’s mission and business model have been to take high quality test preparation education closer to the student’s home rather than the student needing to migrate for it. AESL’s 200 pan-India centers, powered with institutional academic pedagogy, enable this distributed delivery currently. We plan to supplement this strong physical network by growing AESL’s digital segment to create India’s largest omni-channel test preparation company.”
Kotak Investment Banking acted as the exclusive financial advisor to the sellers. S&R acted as legal advisor to sellers. E&Y, KPMG, Trilegal and Clifford Chance acted as advisors to Blackstone.