MUMBAI : Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal seems to be doubling down on his bet on the financial services sector, targeting Essel group’s mutual fund business and making yet another debt investment in a non-bank lender.

On Monday, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) tweeted that it had “received the first green channel combination pertaining to the acquisition of the Essel Mutual Fund by an entity forming a part of the Sachin Bansal Group." The green channel is a speedier approval route for mergers and acquisitions. Under this process, the combination is deemed to have been approved upon filing the notice in the prescribed format.

Bansal’s interest in asset management follows his recent acquisition of non-banking financial company (NBFC) Chaitanya Rural Intermediation Development Services Pvt. Ltd (CRIDS).

On 25 September, Mint reported that the Flipkart co-founder announced his foray into financial services sector by acquiring a majority stake in CRIDS for 739 crore.

CRIDS, a Bengaluru-based micro-lender, was founded by Anand Rao and Samit Shetty. It provides access to credit for the underbanked population. It also offers loans for two-wheelers, housing, small business and education. It has operations in five states—Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

“This acquisition is our entry into financial services," Bansal said in a statement.

Bansal will assume the role of chief executive of CRIDS. Both the founders will continue with their respective roles of growing the existing business segments.

Existing business units at CRIDS will continue to operate without any significant change in management, according to the statement.

Separately on Monday, non-bank lender U GRO Capital Ltd said it has issued its first non-convertible debentures (NCD) of around 50 crore, which was subscribed by Bansal in his private capacity.

U GRO, founded by Shachindra Nath in December 2017, had earlier raised approximately $140 million from a diversified set of global private equity investors such as Neruest, ADV Partners, PAG, Samena Capital and others.

Since leaving Flipkart in 2018, Bansal has been investing his wealth in various startups and lending institutions, largely in the form of debt.

Mint reported on 14 July that Bansal has invested 200 crore in debt paper issued by Piramal Enterprises Ltd.

Bansal’s loan to Piramal Enterprises followed investments by him in debt deals worth more than $100 million.

In February, Mint reported that the co-founder of e-commerce major Flipkart has invested 250 crore each, via debt, in NBFCs Altico Capital India Ltd and IndoStar Capital Finance Ltd.

The investment was made through BAC Acquisitions Pvt. Ltd, the holding company Bansal started with investment banker Ankit Agarwal. In May, Bansal invested $3 million each in debt in two scooter-sharing startups Vogo and Bounce.

Besides the debt deals, he has invested $100 million in Ola and has led a $51 million funding round in electric vehicle maker Ather Energy.

Bansal made more than $1 billion by selling his 5.5% stake in Flipkart during the $16 billion Walmart-Flipkart deal in 2018.

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