Zee Learns appoints former Manipal executive as CEO

Zee Learn Ltd, the education arm of Essel Group, has appointed former Manipal Global Education Services executive Debshankar Mukhopadhyay as chief executive officer, as per a press statement.

Mukhopadhyay, who was previously heading the educational sales – financial services & insurance division at Manipal, has over two decades experience in educational and financial sectors across South Asia.

“It gives me immense pleasure to be associated with Zee Learn, which is one of the largest players in the core educational sector. I am looking forward to working with the team to strengthen the award winning education brands of Zee Learn,” Mukhopadhyay, an alumni of Kolkata University, said.

He had in the past served organisations such as Max Life Insurance Co. Ltd, Western Union, Scholastic India, Zee Interactive Learning Systems Ltd and DHL Worldwide.

The appointment comes on the heels of the company putting on hold its much-talked about merger with pre-school chain Tree House Education & Accessories Ltd. The company had said in a stock-exchange filing last month that it will not go ahead with the previously agreed share exchange ratio of 53 shares of the company for 10 shares of Tree House.

VCCircle was the first to report that the terms of the proposed merger between the country’s two biggest pre-school chains, Zee Learn's KidZee and Tree House, were set to be reviewed.

The merger proposal came just months after Mumbai-based Tree House's investors raised concerns over its accounts and operations. In September, proxy advisory firm Stakeholders’ Empowerment Services raised concerns over high levels of trade receivables on the company's balance sheet. It also raised questions over the company’s fee collection and accounting systems.

Zee Learn, whose scrip were trading at Rs 29.80 a share on Thursday afternoon, operates the country's largest pre-school chain under the KidZee brand with 1,350 centres, entirely through franchisees. It also runs the second-largest school chain under Mount Litera brand with 87 centres. Besides, it runs 31 vocational training institutes under ZEE Institute of Creative Art and one centre under Zee Institute of Media Arts.

The company has posted net sales of Rs 139 crore in FY15-16 compared with Rs 121 crore the year before. It also fared well in terms of profit growth last year with the company registering an increase in over 50 per cent in net profit.

Shemrock and Euro Kids are the other prominent pre-school chains in India. Shemrock has about 425 centres while Euro Kids runs 884 centres, according to their websites.

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