Sachin Bansal sells Navi’s microfinancing unit for $178.5 million

Svatantra Microfin has reached an agreement to acquire Navi Group’s microfinancing unit Chaitanya India for about $178.5 million, the two firms said Tuesday, latest in a series of events at entrepreneur Sachin Bansal’s firm that has struggled to secure a banking license.

Svatantra said it will become the second largest microlender in India — with a reach of over 3.6 million active customers across 20 states — with the Chaitanya acquisition. The combined entity will have about $1.5 billion in assets under management.

“This transaction is in line with our strategic plan to focus on our digital-first businesses, as we continue our digital-first financial services through the Navi Group,” said Bansal in a prepared statement.

The Reserve Bank of India rejected Chaitanya’s application for banking application last year, further complicating Navi Group’s plan for an IPO at a time when most firms were deferring plans to go public. Navi, which offers customers insurance and loan products, filed paperworks for a $440 million IPO last year.

Svatantra Microfin, founded by Indian billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla’s daughter Ananya Birla, provides microloans largely to women entrepreneurs in rural India.

“The proposed acquisition will propel Svatantra to a significant leadership position,” said Birla, who also serves as Svatantra’s chairman. “The combined entity will command a substantial reach, enabling the delivery of a diverse array of financial services to our clients across a geographically diverse portfolio.”