upGrad set to acquire Talentedge for Rs 350-400 crore

upGrad, the online higher education company co-owned by Ronnie Screwvala, is set to acquire Talentedge, India’s fourth largest online higher education company, for around Rs 350-400 crore.

upGrad has entered into an exclusive agreement to acquire Arrina Education Services, the holding company of Talentedge Education Ventures, in what will be one of the larger consolidations in the Indian higher education space.

“We are leaders by far in the higher education space in India,” Screwvala, chairperson of upGrad, told ET. “Currently, we are twice as much as the next player, but we want to grow the gap to 4X before we branch out.”

He added that upGrad has cemented its leadership position as the most integrated player in higher education in Asia, serving learners and working professionals across the age group of 18-50 years.

“Talentedge has meticulously built a strong business over the last decade and stayed the course in this space where most did not survive, and we are very pleased to welcome them at upGrad as we build one of the largest edtech companies in the world,” Screwvala said.

While he refused to disclose the acquisition cost of Talentedge, he added that the company will do Rs 130 crore of revenue this financial year, and double that in the next year. But people in the know put the transaction value at Rs 350-400 crore.

Talentedge chief executive Aditya Malik said: “Talentedge will continue to work as is with its university and institute partners to deliver the quality education to its learners across degree and certification programmes.”

upGrad has grown exponentially on the back of inorganic expansions in the last one year, having acquired The GATE Academy (November, 2020), Rekrut India (December, 2020), KnowledgeHut (August, 2021), Impartus (May, 2021), and Global Study Partners (GSP), the largest study abroad company in Australia (November, 2021).

Last month, upGrad merged upGrad Campus (originally Impartus), upGrad Jeet (The Gate Academy), and upGrad KnowledgeHut to consolidate and create one parent company.

“It was always a vision to be an integrated company. I did the same in media (UTV Software Communication), and even in edtech, we will follow an integrated approach,” said Screwvala.

However, he added that while it seems that upGrad is on an acquisition spree, it is not. “It may look that we are M&A aggressive, but we are not. I am a firm believer of build versus buy. However, this space is now open for some sense of consolidation. For us, the criterion for M&A is something that becomes very much an integral part of us the next day it comes.

Cofounded by Screwvala, Mayank Kumar and Phalgun Kompalli in 2015, upGrad recently turned a unicorn, hitting a valuation of $1.2 billion with a $185 million funding round in August.

Screwvala said the company is not actively looking for any more fundraising, though there is a “lot of incoming demand”. “At some stage, we might service that also. We have just raised money, so we don’t have to raise more,” he said.


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