Favourable outcomes for Amazon can derail the Big Bazaar parent’s preparations for its Rs 25,000-crore asset sale to Reliance Retail. TOI had reported that Future Group is likely to approach the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to seek approval for a shareholders’ meet after a division bench of the Delhi High Court on January 5 stayed ongoing Amazon-Future arbitration proceedings before a Singapore tribunal.
In another setback for Amazon, the CCI on December 17 temporarily suspended its approval for the e-tailer’s 2019 purchase of 49% stake in Future Coupons (FCPL), an unlisted Future Group company.
The Seattle-headquartered company, which is locked in a bitter legal battle with Future Group over the latter’s proposed asset sale to Reliance Retail, took these steps on Saturday, sources told TOI.
“The division bench had mentioned that they will hear about the maintainability of its hearing the matter in the next hearing but went ahead to issue notice. The high court single bench had passed order under a section that can’t be heard by division bench legally and has to be heard by the Supreme Court only,” said a source.
Both Amazon and Future Group did not comment on this story. At the NCLAT, Amazon, however, has also challenged the Rs 202 crore penalty imposed on it by the antitrust watchdog for allegedly suppressing certain facts about its “real” purpose behind its investment in FCPL, said three people in know of the matter.
Before the division bench at Delhi High Court halted the Singapore arbitration proceedings, Justice Amit Bansal at Delhi HC had dismissed pleas filed by Future Group companies that sought to end the arbitration proceedings with Amazon before SIAC.
“They injuncted the Singapore tribunal to stop hearing an arbitration which was underway on the very same day. This was unprecedented,” said the source.
The CCI’s suspension of the approval of Amazon’s FCPL investment is critical for the e-tailer because it was the sole basis on which it has been trying to block the Future-Reliance deal. Amazon has claimed in legal courts that its investment in FCPL gave it strategic rights over FRL, since FCPL held a 10% stake in Future Group’s flagship company, FRL.
SIAC had passed an interim award in favour of Amazon in October 2020 that barred Future Group from going ahead with its Rs 25,000-crore assets sale to Reliance Retail. Amazon dragged Future to SIAC when the Future-Reliance deal was announced for alleged breach of contract.
Future Group approached the Delhi High Court after the SIAC on December 30 refused to consider the retailer’s petitions to stop the arbitration proceedings before the commencement of the final hearings this week.