Short on the heels of Aptech Ltd’s announ-cement of the unaudited financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 2003, Nisha Kurian of CyberMedia News Ser-vice met with Pramod Khera, CMD, Aptech Ltd, to discuss the merger of SSI Education and Aptech Ltd and the road ahead. Excerpts from the Interview:
Why is there still confusion on the merger of SSI-Aptech?
What has happened is that SSI bought out the 27 percent of the promoter’s stake of Aptech. Then Aptech bought out the education business from SSI, which got merged with Aptech. After buying out the promoter’s stake, that is to say Atul Nishar’s stake, SSI had to make an open offer of 20 per-cent. Thus its stake increased to 47 percent. As a result of this merger, the education and training business of SSi Ltd got integrated with Aptech Ltd and now, Aptech has got three different brands catering to different market segments–Aptech Computer Education, which is the long term career courses, Arena Multimedia and SSI Education for short term high end technology courses.
In principal, what is the possibility of cartelization, since there are only two players involved in straight fight?
The fact is that competition has become much more intense now. It is very much clear that if one has to grow in this mar-ket one has to fight. Following the merger the total revenue of Aptech Ltd has gone higher than our competitor. In num-bers, we are the only largest training company and we are the only pure training company. NIIT still has the software divi-sion along with its education business. We are a pure educa-tion company. Our focus will now be into education sectors, which we can address.
By education you mean that you will be focusing on non-IT education also?
Yes, we want to transform into a global learning corpora-tion where IT will not be the only offering. We have got per-mission to set up Aptech University in Raipur and we plan to make an investment of Rs 22-25 crore for over a period of five years. By next academic year, we should be offering the courses. For now these courses will be offered in the University campus, but we also plan to set up colleges.
The first college has been set up in Chennai with an invest-ment of Rs 2-3 crore. We want to set up 20 colleges in the next two years for which we are loo-king at partners. These colleges will offer courses in IT, manage-ment and communication studies.
How was the last quarter and what are your plans for future?
For Q3, we made a growth of 25 percent and our topline grew from Rs 104 crore to
Rs 125 crore. We are planning to set up a content develop-ment factory in Chennai. In education, content is the key and we have currently 50-60 people working for content development in Chennai, which we plan to scale upto 150. Last quarter, we genera-ted Rs 5 crore business from content development.
In addition to that, we are looking at online testing. Inter-nally, we carry online testing and now we have plans to give this service to external clients such as banking, insurance, etc. Already, we have tied up with Kerala IT mission for online tes-ting to certify people on basic IT literacy.