Amazon and Future Group are at odds.
Amazon suggested a meeting with Reliance Industries and Future Group on the 3rd of march to end the legal stalemate, and the Supreme Court gave them until the 15th of March to reach an agreement. The Supreme Court was also informed by amazon that it would prefer to continue procedures of arbitration in Singapore that had been stopped by the Delhi High Court. This was agreed upon, by the Future Group.
Reliance purchased Future Group’s entire company, widely known as Big Bazaar, in 2020 for around Rs. 24,700 crore to expand its reach in local markets of India and Amazon engaged into an arrangement with the Future Group in 2019, to buy two types of stakes:
- 49 percent investment in Future Coupons Pvt. Ltd., a Future Group affiliate,
- And 3 percent share in the Future Retail Group.
According to the terms of the agreement, Amazon would have the first option to purchase Future Group in the future. Furthermore, Future Group would be unable to sell its assets in the future to a list of Amazon’s competitors. Reliance Industries was listed on this list. Indian regulators, including the Competition Commission of India, approved this transaction (CCI).
As a result, Amazon contested the Reliance-Future Group Deal and chose to pursue the matter in the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) rather of the Indian legal systems, as stipulated in the Future Group-Amazon dispute clause in the agreement.
When the SIAC order was issued, there were no laws in India that allowed international arbitration orders to be enforced. As a result, Amazon urged Indian authorities such as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) not to allow the Reliance-Future Group merger. However, Reliance and Future Group were both opposed to the international order since international orders were not applicable in India, were not enforceable in India, and hence were not binding on them.
Future Coupons and Amazon’s counsels told the Supreme Court that an out-of-court settlement between Future Group, Reliance Industries, and Amazon to end the legal struggle over assets of the Future Group had failed.
There was a long legal dispute over Amazon’s Rs. 24,713 crore contract with Reliance Industries. On the 3rd of March, the lawyers representing the two corporations reached an agreement to try to resolve the case through negotiations. During this time, the Supreme Court has urged that no orders be issued by other courts.
The “whirlpool” of litigation, according to counsel on behalf of Amazon, Gopal Subramanian, has been dragged on for far too long. “We can’t allow the spinner’s wheel to keep spinning.” At the very least, have a discussion,” Subramanium told the Supreme Court.
“What prohibits Amazon from calling Kishore Biyani and discussing?” argued Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who was representing a Future Group. Let me guarantee you that no one is going to come out on top in this fight. “Amazon’s ‘God’ must descend to earth and communicate to weaker mortals like us,” Salve explained. “No one is coming out on top.” FRL, Reliance, and Amazon are all experiencing problems. I’m not sure why we need a court order to have a conversation.”
Amazon’s deal to invest in Future Coupons was stopped by the Competition Commission of India last year, citing the suppression of information connected to the deal. This order has already been challenged in court by Amazon. Things could get a lot uglier if Amazon files a criminal lawsuit against Future Retail over the transfer of its store leases. Meanwhile, on February 28, the National Company Law Tribunal issued a decision permitting Future Retail to call shareholder and creditor meetings to seek permission for the 2020 transaction between Future Retail and Reliance Industries.
The court applauded both parties’ decision to engage in discussion. Amazon has agreed to refrain from filing any additional petitions. On the 15th of March, the Supreme Court will hear the case once more.
The Supreme Court granted Amazon permission to file an interim application on Tuesday, and the matter was postponed until March 16. According to a source familiar with the situation, Amazon would file an interim motion seeking a restart of the tribunal hearing as well as an injunction preventing Future Retail from selling its assets to Reliance Industries.
The US e-commerce behemoth accused Future Retail and Reliance Industries, of store transfer fraud in a newspaper ad published on Tuesday. On February 25, Reliance Industries began the acquisition of Future Group outlets.
Future Group said in two filings of stock exchanges on March 9 that it received termination notifications for 947 stores it had subleased from Reliance businesses on March 7 and March 8. 342 Big Bazaar and Fashion@Big Bazaar (fbb) locations, as well as 493 small format businesses such as easy day and Heritage stores, got termination notifications from the corporation. It further stated that these outlets have historically contributed between 55 and 65 percent of the company’s retail revenue operations.
Also, Future Lifestyle has been given the notice to close 78 Brand Factory stores and 34 Central stores, which contributed between 55 and 65 percent of the company’s retail income, according to the filing of its stock exchange.
Future Group has around 1,500 stores, with the remaining stores (approximately 550) continuing with the company.