Byju’s CFO quits in six months amid delayed accounts

Byju’s CFO Ajay Goel, who joined the edtech giant in April this year, has already resigned, the two said Tuesday, in the latest setback for the startup that is grappling with scores of challenges. Goel will leave Byju’s after completing the long-delayed audit formalities for the financial year ending March 2022 and return to mining conglomerate Vedanta late this month, Byju’s said.

Byju’s said it has appointed industry veteran Pradip Kanakia as a senior advisor and elevated Nitin Golani, who currently serves as president of the startup’s finances, as its CFO. “I thank the founders and colleagues at Byju’s for helping me assemble the FY22 audit in three months. I appreciate the support received during a short but impactful stint at Byju’s,” said Goel in a statement.

Tuesday’s disclosure is the latest slide for Byju’s — India’s most valuable startup which once received a valuation of up to $50 billion from bankers for an IPO — which is facing scores of governance, financial and optics issues.

The startup is dealing with a group of lenders over a $1.2 billion term-B loan, and fighting another conflict with Davidson Kempner, which had originally agreed to extend as much as $250 million credit to Byju’s but is now instead pushing for a payment over execution of a technical default clause.

Goel’s departure follows Deloitte quitting the startup in June this year, alongside three of Byju’s key board members. A month later Prosus, which owns more than 9% of Byju’s and is one of its earlier backers, publicly slammed the Bengaluru-headquartered startup for not evolving sufficiently and disregarding the investor’s advice and recommendations despite repeated attempts. (Prosus also marked down Byju’s valuation to $5.1 billion.)

Deloitte said in its resignation letter in June that Byju’s, which has grown accustomed to delaying the filing of its financial accounts, hadn’t provided “any communication” on the resolution of the audit report for the financial year going as back as the financial year ending March 31, 2021, nor had it given the auditor an update on the status of readiness of the financial statements and the underlying books for the financial year ending March last year.

Byju’s, which has cut over 10,000 jobs since the market condition turned, has repeatedly also delayed filing the financial account for March 2022. The startup, which spent about $2.5 billion acquiring a range of firms in 2020 and 2021, is also looking to sell many of those businesses to clear dues to its lenders.


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