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Indian court offers temporary protection for Byju’s

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INDIAN edtech firm Byju’s said Wednesday (21) a court had given it temporary protection in its fight against a group of shareholders trying to sack the company’s billionaire founder.

Byju’s, which is controlled by CEO Byju Raveendran, was once one of India’s most valuable start-ups as demand for its online learning products boomed during the Covid pandemic.

Once valued at over $20 billion (£15.8bn), Byju’s has seen its valuation crash by an estimated 90 per cent over the last year.

It lost support of key investors and has faced a series of crises, including the resignation of its auditor Deloitte and a legal fight with US lenders over a $1.2bn (£950 million) loan.

Earlier this month, a group of shareholders, including tech investor giant Prosus, requested an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) set for Friday (23) to oust Raveendran and appoint a new board.

But Byju’s said a high court in India’s Karnataka state had ordered that any decisions taken by shareholders at the EGM would be “invalid” until the next hearing.

Byju’s said the reason for the EGM were “merely a smokescreen designed to disrupt the management, control, and functioning of the company”.

AFP has reviewed a copy of the interim order.

Investor sources said that the court order did not prohibit the shareholder meeting from taking place or declare it illegal.

The sources added that the EGM would go ahead and investors would still push to remove Raveendran as CEO.

Byju’s has alleged that investors, including US growth equity firm General Atlantic and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic venture founded by Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, had violated their shareholders’ agreement by calling the EGM.

Representatives of Prosus and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative stepped down from the Byju’s board last year.

(AFP)

 

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