Fair trade regulator, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has given its approval for the merger of fintech unicorn ‘Slice’ with Guwahati-based North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB). The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the banking regulator, had previously issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the merger in October of last year.

The merger is backed by Tiger Global and Insight Partners. Bengaluru-headquartered Slice provides customers with credit and payment services. On the other hand, NESFB operates 208 branches across seven North East states and West Bengal, focusing mainly on rural customers and the bottom of the pyramid segment.

Slice had previously announced that the merger would align with the shared goal of integrating technology with grassroots financial inclusion across the country. The merger will also enable the company to raise deposits from the public, thus reducing its cost of funds for lending and giving it a competitive edge in the lending space.

After the merger, the newly-formed SFB Slice will transition its current prepaid accounts into full-service banking accounts. In the fiscal year 2023, the company reported a threefold increase in operating revenue to ₹847 crore, with ₹472 crore coming from interest on loans disbursed by the fintech through its NBFC subsidiary, and ₹375 crore from fees and commissions. However, losses increased by 60% to ₹406 crore in the same period.

Recently, the startup has also introduced a UPI-first prepaid account for its users and obtained the final authorisation from the RBI for its Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) licence.

Meanwhile, the CCI has also approved the merger between Garagepreneurs Internet Private Limited (GIPL), the parent company of Slice, and its subsidiaries — Quadrillion Finance Private Limited (QFPL), an NBFC, and Intergalactory Foundry Private Limited (IFPL), along with the bank.  The proposed transaction also involves the wholly-owned subsidiary of the Guwahati-headquartered bank—RGVN (North-East) Microfinance Limited.

The CCI has also given the green light for TPG Growth V SF Markets Pte. Ltd. and Waverly Pte. Ltd. to acquire a stake in the Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology (AINU) through Asia Healthcare Holdings Pte. Ltd.

Following this approval, TPG Growth V SF Markets Pte Ltd (Growth V) and Waverly Pte Ltd will obtain redeemable preference shares in AHH, as stated by the CCI release. Asia Healthcare Holdings Pte (AHH) primarily engages in long-term investment holding activities and provides healthcare services in India. AHH is jointly owned and controlled by the TPG Group and Waverly.

Additionally, the regulator has also cleared the proposed acquisition of a majority shareholding in the Asian Institute of Nephrology and Urology Pvt Ltd (AINU) by AHH.

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