Future Retail Group can take a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court of India has stayed all the further proceedings initiated by ecommerce giant Amazon before the Delhi High Court for four weeks. The ruling comes just days after Kishore Biyani’s Future Retail moved to SC to steer clear of its $3.4 Bn worth retail asset sale, which Amazon had challenged earlier.
In the virtual proceedings, Justice Surya Kant and A S Bopanna directed regulatory authorities National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Commission of India (CCI) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to not pass any final orders for four weeks.
Amazon and Future Group has been in a legal battle since 2020.
Promoter entity of Future Retail, Future Coupons, entered into a Rs 1,500 Cr deal with ecommerce giant Amazon in 2019, and in the following year, it entered into an asset sale deal worth $3.4 Bn with Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).
This deal was the beginning of an extensive row between Amazon and Future Retail. Last year, Amazon sent a legal notice to Future stating breach of agreement, which received a favourable ruling in the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).
While Future moved to Delhi HC alleging Amazon is interfering with its deal with RIL, Delhi HC passed a ruling favouring Amazon. This tussle led to SIAC forming an arbitration tribunal to relook into the case in January this year and a status quo being ordered on the deal by HC.
Following this, while Delhi HC lifted the status quo, Amazon moved to SC challenging the ruling, which torpedoed into SC re-levying the restrain on the RIL and Future Group deal and directing Kishore Biyani to attach all his properties as part of Amazon’s plea for enforcement of the emergency award.
The deal saw Amazon picking up a 49% stake in Future Coupons, which in turn owns 7.3% shares in Future Retail. Through this transaction, Amazon had also managed to acquire around a 3.58% stake in Future Group. More important than Amazon’s holding is the fact that in its agreement with Future, the US tech and ecommerce giant had named 30 entities with whom the Future Group could not transact, including Reliance Retail, which has now proven to be pivotal in the decision of the Supreme Court.
With the acquisition of brands like Big Bazaar and other Future stores as well as its private labels, Reliance has been expecting to increase its share in India’s ecommerce market as well as widen its market share in the offline retail space. The company was also expecting to bridge the supply chain gaps with the help of Future’s massive retail presence.