The State Bank of India plans to initiate its merger with its five associates and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank by the end of October. SBI Chairperson Arundathi Bhattacharya said, "The grievance committee will come back to us hopefully by the end of this month. Thereafter, we have to send it to the Reserve Bank and then to the government for final approval, which may probably take a month," according to PTI.

The merger will transform SBI into the 45th biggest global lender, with an asset base of Rs 37 lakh crore. SBI's central board had cleared the acquisition of five associate banks and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank and confirmed the swap ratios for the deal. Bhattacharya had said earlier that they will try to wrap up the deal by March 2017, despite protests in the banking sector.

The five associate banks that will integrate with the parent lender are the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad. The first such merger took place in 2008, when the State Bank of Saurashtra became part of the SBI, followed by the State Bank of Indore in 2010.

Shareholders of these banks have been given 21 days to file their objections with the grievance committee, which is headed by a high court judge. The merger, Bhattacharya said, will reduce the government's stake in the bank to around 59.70% from its standing of 61.30% in June. She said, "We are a free society, and if there are number of legal challenges, we [the deal] may not get completed...There is already a PIL in a Kerala court against the merger."

The deal will bring the SBI's branch count to 22,500 branches and the number of ATMs to 58,000, according to PTI. SBI currently owns nearly 16,500 branches, including 191 foreign offices in 36 countries.