Singapore arbitrator favours Amazon’s claim, Future-Reliance’s ₹25,000 crore deal put on hold longer

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Singapore arbitrator favours Amazon’s claim, Future-Reliance’s ₹25,000 crore deal put on hold longer
Reliance Industries' Mukesh Ambani, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Future Group's Kishore BiyaniBI India/BCCL
  • Amazon, which holds about 3% stake in Future Retail, had opposed Reliance’s acquisition of Future Group’s retail assets.
  • It had claimed that they were not informed about Reliance Industries acquiring Future Group’s retail assets in advance.
  • Even the Supreme Court of India had passed a judgement in favour of Amazon in August 2021.
A Singapore arbitration panel has rejected Future Retail’s plea, taking its ₹24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail off the table for a little longer. The judgement has been passed in favour of ecommerce giant Amazon, which was seeking a blockade of this retail deal since 2020.

Amazon — which holds about 3% stake in Future Retail through its 49% shareholding in Future Coupons — objected to the deal ever since it was announced in August 2020.

The Jeff Bezos-led company has claimed that they were not informed about Reliance Industries acquiring Future Group’s retail assets in advance. Secondly, the company also mentioned that their investment agreement with Future Group barred them from cracking any such deal with 11 companies, including Reliance.

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Earlier in August this year, even the Supreme Court of India had passed a judgement in favour of Amazon. Meanwhile, it is important to note that the Reliance and Future Group had received most of the regulatory approvals to carry out the deal in the span of one year.

Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in an interim decision had also put off the Reliance-Future deal in October 2020, after which the Future Group filed another plea to revoke it. The panel rejected the plea on October 21, Kishore Biyani-led Future Group said in a statement to the Indian stock exchange.

"The arbitration tribunal has passed a decision dismissing the application to vacate the interim award… The Company would be deciding on its future course of action based on the legal advice and available remedies in law," the statement read.

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The shares of Future Retail fell marginally by 1.35% on Friday after the announcement. The company was trading at ₹50.70 at 11:37 a.m., on October 22.

Earlier this year, Future Group’s chief executive Kishore Biyani has claimed that the Reliance acquisition deal was a “saviour for them, their employees and shareholders.” He noted that Future Group had reached out to Amazon eight times in 2020, seeking financial help. However, the e-commerce giant never offered any support.

“As part of the agreement, they could have provided us funds through affiliates or financial institutions by taking over loans from existing lenders, but they never did despite the agreement clause and our request,” Biyani had told the Economic Times.

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