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Indian edtech giant Byju's raises $250 million, on track to close another $700 million

Byju's has raised $250 million in fresh funding and is close to securing an additional $700 million, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch, as the Indian edtech giant builds up its war chest ahead of the highly anticipated IPO of its subsidiary Aakash.

The New York-headquartered investment firm Davidson Kempner has invested $250 million in Byju's via structured instruments, the people said, requesting anonymity as the information is not public.

The Bengaluru-headquartered startup, India's most valuable, is finalizing the remainder of the capital from a sovereign fund, the people said. That capital, expected to arrive in two weeks, will come into the startup as part of a convertible note that caps the valuation at $22 billion.

Byju's has maintained its $22 billion valuation throughout the past year even as numerous high-profile startups globally have had severe corrections in their value.

Davidson Kempner declined to comment, while Byju's did not immediately respond. TechCrunch could not identify the sovereign fund. Indian news outlet Moneycontrol earlier reported about Byju's plans for fresh funding.

The large financing round in Byju's comes at a time when the Indian startup ecosystem is reeling from a funding crunch amid weakening global economy.

Byju’s is in advanced discussions with bankers including Citi and Goldman Sachs to go ahead with the IPO of Aakash, a physical tutor chain it acquired for nearly $1 billion two years ago, TechCrunch reported earlier.

Byju’s has received the approval from its board of directors to go ahead with the IPO of Aakash, and it’s gearing up to file the paperwork.

The startup — which prepares students pursuing undergraduate and graduate-level courses, and in recent years has expanded to serve all school-going students — has amassed 150 million users who use its learning app while hundreds of thousands of students visit the firm's brick-and-mortar centers.

Byju’s, like many other edtechs, benefited from the lockdown as more parents explored digital supplements to continue their kids' education. The startup spent more than $2.5 billion in the past two and a half years to acquire startups globally as the Indian firm expanded and broadened its offerings in several international markets, Prosus Ventures, a backer of Byju’s, disclosed in a filing last year.

The startup generated a gross revenue of $1.258 billion (unaudited) in the financial year that ended in March last year year. Between April and July, the startup logged revenue of $570 million, it said. Byju’s counts Prosus Ventures, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia Capital India, Silver Lake, Owl Ventures, UBS and Blackrock among its backers and has raised over $6 billion to date.