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Blackstone-backed test-prep firm Aakash ropes in CEO from Byju\'s
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Aakash Educational Services Ltd, one of the leading test-preparation firms in the country, has appointed edtech giant Byju's international head Abhishek Maheshwari as the new CEO.

The appointment, as per a press statement, will further support Aakash's omni-channel growth.

"Abhishek will be responsible for strategy formulation and management of core offerings, which include digital along with classroom, hybrid and distance learning," said Aakash Chaudhary, who was so far CEO of the company.

With Maheshwari on board, Chaudhary will now be managing director.

Maheshwari joined Byju's in July 2019, prior to which he was India head of The Walt Disney Company.

An alumnus of IIT-Delhi, Maheshwari has also worked with consultant McKinsey and private equity firm Kubera Partners.

His exit comes at a time when Byju's is gearing up for US expansion. It has also been securing cheques from investors at a quick pace.

Byju's has recently seen the likes of Silver Lake Management, DST Global and Bond Capital joining the company as new institutional backers.

Aakash, which is backed by private equity giant Blackstone, has a network of more than 200 centres across 130 cities that cater to more than 250,000 students. It uses classroom-based coaching as well as digital and distance-learning methods.

The company provides test-preparatory services to Class 10+2 students looking to study medicine and engineering. It also offers foundation courses (covering school boards and junior competitive exams) for Class 8-10 students. These offerings are categorised under three brands – Aakash Medical, Aakash IIT-JEE and Aakash Foundations.

Early this year, Aakash bought a majority stake in edtech firm Meritnation.

The company had filed a draft proposal to float an initial public offering in July 2018. The IPO size was estimated to be around Rs 1,000 crore. 

It got approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India in September 2018. That approval lapsed last year, and the firm is now unlikely to go ahead with the IPO immediately in light of the deal with Blackstone.

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