Manipal Group chairman Dr Ranjan Pai, whose real-time net worth stands at $2.8 billion (as per Forbes), has become the single-largest shareholder in Byju’s-owned Aakash Institute, after the latter’s board approved the conversion into equity of $300 million invested by him in 2023, Economic Times has reported.

A man walks past an advertising hoarding of Byju’s, an Education Technology company and one of India’s biggest startup, outside one of its branches in New Delhi

Upon conversion, Pai’s investment gives him a 40% stake in Aakash, making him the single-largest shareholder in the entrance exam preparation franchise, purchased by Byju’s in April 2021 at $950 million (approx. 7885 crore).

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“The board has approved the conversion, and Pai is now the largest shareholder. He has been closely involved with (Byju’s co-founder and CEO Byju) Raveendran in sorting out the Davidson Kempner debt issue and other matters too. ‘The Pai factor’ will be critical for the fate of both Aakash and Byju’s,” a person aware of the developments told the publication.

Additionally, the conversion of the billionaire doctor’s investment into equity, values Aakash at $700 million, rendering it debt-free. Cumulatively, however, Raveendran, who co-founded the troubled edtech giant that was once India’s most valuable startup; and its parent company Think & Learn, continue to hold 42% in Aakash, while the remaining 18% lies with the Chaudhry family (Aakash’s promoters) and private equity firm Blackstone.

Further, the Manipal Group chairman, 72, gets an additional seat on the Aakash board, having secured the anti-trust regulator’s approval for his investment.

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