Under the initial terms discussed, Byju’s would raise a sum of nearly $4 billion and aim a valuation of almost $48 billion, the people spoke. According to market research firm CB Insights, the startup was valued at $21 billion.
According to people familiar with the subject, the online education provider Byju’s, India’s most valuable startup, is in progressive talks to go public through a merger with one of Churchill Capital’s special-purpose acquisition companies (SPAC).
The startup held discussions with some potential SPAC partners and is farthest along in working out an agreement with Michael Klein’s Churchill Capital, told the people, requesting not to be named discussing confidential subjects. Churchill Capital VII raised more than $1.3 billion in an offering in February and trades on the New York Stock Exchange.
While a notification could come as soon as January, the negotiations are not final. Byju’s or Churchill could still opt-out of such a deal, and Byju’s could view an IPO in India next year, the people spoke.
The startup had earlier discussed a SPAC consolidation with Michael Dell’s MSD Acquisition Corp. and Altimeter Capital Management, one of the people said. India-headquartered businesses can’t go public through traditional initial public offerings in the U.S. under the country’s present laws.
Byju’s refused to comment. Churchill didn’t directly answer requests for comment.
The Bengaluru-headquartered company, started and directed by former teacher Byju Raveendran, gives K-12 lectures and video material to millions of Indians studying for the nation’s competitive engineering and medical entrance exams. It also provides one-to-one coding, mathematics and reading classes and content to students in countries in North America, the Middle East and Latin America.
Byju’s had been aiming to file preliminary documents for a traditional initial public offering as soon as the second quarter of 2022 and was also thinking of a SPAC merger. The startup and its investors had discussed a valuation of $40 billion to $50 billion. However, the final decision would depend on financial results and investor demand, people acquainted with the matter said at the time.
This year, India’s technology sector has soared, with IPO fundraisings on track to reach record levels. Venture capital firms have also stepped up their investments in the country, driven in part by a Communist Party crackdown in China that has made that market less hospitable.
Byju’s formally named Think & Learn Pvt. has major global investors, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Naspers Ltd., Tiger Global Management and private equity giant Silver Lake Management.
In a recent conversation with media, founder Raveendran spoke the startup is targeting $1.3 billion in revenue in the year ending March 2022, with a 20% margin. Byju’s has been on an acquisition flee in the past year, acquiring startups offering coding lessons, professional learning courses and test prep classes for competitive Indian exams.