Future Retail Can’t Sell Its Assets To Reliance Retail: Singapore Tribunal

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In a double victory for Amazon, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has denied Future Retail’s appeal to lift the temporary suspension of its Rs 24,700-crore deal to sell its assets to Reliance Retail, the Indian retail giant that is part of Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate Reliance Industries. 

This comes after the Singapore tribunal’s decision that made Future Retail (FRL) party to the dispute that arises from the contract with Future Coupons (FCPL) – an unlisted entity of Future Group – and Amazon.

To make the most of the SIAC ruling, the US e-commerce behemoth has also submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of India urging it to overturn the recent National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) order that allowed Kishore Biyani led Future Group to convene a meeting of its creditors and shareholders to discuss the consolidation of its businesses.

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The meeting, scheduled to take place during the second week of November, is thought to be the initial stage in the deal to sell Future Group’s retailer, warehousing, and logistics businesses to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries. 

For almost a year now, Amazon is locked in a tense legal battle with Future Group in a bid to stop the acquisition of Future Retail by Reliance Retail.

Future Retail had originally approached SIAC with two requests; The company had stated that it was not a participant in the agreement that was reached between Future Coupons and Amazon in 2019. The online retailer had invested approximately Rs 1,400 in Future Coupons. In addition, FRL urged SIAC to lift the interim stay for the sale of its properties to Reliance Retail.

Amazon argued that the deal with Future Coupons gave the US etailer an indirect holding in the flagship Future Group, which owns the chain of supermarkets Big Bazaar, as FCPL held around 10% of the part of FRL.

The year-long legal battle between Amazon and Future Retail has taken many interesting turns. While Future Group seems to have little relief in the Indian court, Amazon always enjoys SIAC ruling in its favor.

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Future Group’s proposal to sell the assets of Future Retail to Reliance irked Amazon and led it to take the Big Bazaar parent to SIAC in October of last year, which gave Amazon an upper hand in connection with the Future-Reliance proposed deal. Amazon asserted that Future Group violated contractual agreements in connection with the proposed deal with Reliance, and the eCommerce behemoth must have the first right to reject.

Neither Amazon nor Future Retail has reacted to the development.

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