Dispute with Future Group: Amazon moves NCLAT, SC

The US e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in October 2020, arguing that FRL had violated their contract by entering into a deal for the sale of its retail assets to Reliance Retail on a slump sale basis. Future denies any wrongdoing.

Amazon has been using the 2019 deal with FCPL to block Future’s deal with Reliance.
Amazon has been using the 2019 deal with FCPL to block Future’s deal with Reliance.

Amazon has moved the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) challenging last month’s Competition Commission of India (CCI) order that suspended the regulatory approval for its 2019 deal with local retailer Future Group. The NCLAT is likely to hear the matter this week, sources said.

Separately, Amazon also filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court last weekend, against a Delhi High Court order on January 5 staying the arbitration proceedings initiated by it against Future Retail over the latter’s Rs 24,713 crore merger deal with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail.

In its December 17 order, the anti-trust regulator had said an approval granted to the US e-commerce giant over two years earlier to acquire a 49% stake in Future Coupons (FCPL) would ‘stand in abeyance,’ as the firm suppressed information while seeking clearance. The CCI also imposed a Rs 202 crore penalty on Amazon.

Amazon has been using the 2019 deal with FCPL to block Future’s deal with Reliance. The US e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in October 2020, arguing that FRL had violated their contract by entering into a deal for the sale of its retail assets to Reliance Retail on a slump sale basis. Future denies any wrongdoing.

The CCI’s December 2021 order followed complaints filed by FPCL, Future Retail’s independent directors and the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) alleging Amazon, in its plea before CCI, had not disclosed the intent to indirectly control Future Retail, the parent firm of FCPL, via its 49% acquisition in FCPL.

On January 5, a day after receiving a set back from a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court, Future Retail got a reprieve from the Court’s division bench, which stayed the arbitration proceedings initiated by Amazon before the Singapore Tribunal till February 1. Future Retail and Future Coupons had sought stay on the arbitration proceedings.

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