The ongoing spat between Amazon and Future Retail seems to become ugly with each court hearing, and Amazon is constantly been accused of behaving like evil by Kishore Biyani. A recent document, however, paints a slightly different picture of Amazon.
Amazon apparently wanted to extend a helping hand to Future Group and get rid of their debt in early 2020, according to a recently surfaced presentation.
Two sources who were privy to the ongoing discussions at that time revealed that the U.S based eCommerce giant did line up a group of bluechip investors which included TGP Capital, PremjiInvest, SSG Capital and Verlinvest to rescue Biyan’s debt-ridden Future Group.
The sources mentioned that the proposal to help FRL involved a hefty infusion of Rs 6,000 crores in mixed debt and equity along with a restructuring of the board and Future Retail’s top management.
It appears that Amazon tried to help Future Group repay the gigantic bank dues while avoiding defaults and improving cash flow by selling their products on the Amazon platform across March-May.
Mint examined a copy of the presentation made by Future Group for investors which reflected Amazon’s revival plan for FRL. It is titled- ‘Putting Future Retail Ltd (FRL) Back on Track’.
As per the presentation, Future Group executives wanted to begin infusing investments in tranches starting from May 2020 and Amazon’s plan was under negotiation when the two-pronged crises – the coronavirus outbreak and nationwide lockdown implementations – landed a huge blow on FRL.
Now, besides wanting to attract investors who would bring in Rs 6,000 crores through equity and debt to tackle FRL’s debt and help the company stay afloat without selling to RIL or some other retail rival, Amazon proposed another option as well. It involved the sale of Future Group’s retail businesses to reduce debt and then using the cash to improve the health of its other business areas.
But, on 29 August, Future Group announced the fruition of their talks with RIL about the sale of its retail and wholesale assets to Reliance Retail Ltd. for a whopping of Rs 24,713. Post that, Amazon quickly interjected and a Singapore arbitration tribunal quickly blocked the sale by imposing an interim order on 25th October.
The case is now being examined before the Delhi HC and the Supreme Court while the RIL-Future deal remains stuck in limbo awaiting clearance from the proceedings of the NCLT aka National Company Law Tribunal.
Amazon indirectly owns a 3.5% stake in Future Retail after it bought 49% of Future Coupons for Rs 1,500 crores in August 2019. The Bezos-owned giant argued that Future Group is prohibited from selling shares of Future Retails to rivals in the retail space as per their 2019 deal.
At the last Delhi HC hearing that took place on February 8th, Future Group’s counsel rejected Amazon’s claim to have tried to help Biyani’s retail empire survive its debt-related problems.
Currently, Amazon has not replied back to queries regarding while a Future Group spokesperson has outright denied receiving any such proposals and called the entire story a ‘figment of imagination’. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.