The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) concluded its five-day long hearing on plea filed by American e-commerce giant Amazon against the Rs 24,713 crore deal between the Future Group and Reliance Industries. The SIAC had started hearing the matter from July 12.
The Kishore Biyani-led Future Group was represented by senior advocate Harish Salve and Amazon by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium. Sources said a judgment in the matter is expected to be pronounced after a month. Earlier this year, a three-member tribunal comprising Singaporean barrister Michael Hwang, Albert van den Berg and Jan Paulsson had been formed at the SIAC to look into the matter.
Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, in August 2020, had said it will acquire the retail and wholesale business, and the logistics and warehousing business of Future Group for Rs 24,713 crore. The scheme of arrangement entails the consolidation of Future Group’s retail and wholesale assets into one entity Future Enterprises Ltd and then transferring it to Reliance Retail.
However, the deal was contested by Amazon, an investor in Future Coupons that in turn is a shareholder in Future Retail Ltd. In August 2019, Amazon had agreed to purchase 49% of one of Future’s unlisted firms – Future Coupons Ltd (which owns 7.3% equity in BSE-listed Future Retail Ltd through convertible warrants), with the right to buy into the flagship Future Retail after a period of three to 10 years.
The global e-commerce giant dragged Future into arbitration at SIAC and in October, an interim award was passed by the Emergency Arbitrator (EA) in favor of Amazon that barred Future Retail from taking any step to dispose of or encumber its assets or issuing any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party. Amazon and the Future Group have also filed litigation in Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, on the issue.
Last month, a regulatory filing by Future Consumer Ltd had stated that Future Retail Ltd (FRL) has filed two applications before the SIAC; first being an application challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, and second was an application for the vacation of the EA order. On July 8, the Supreme Court bench of Justices RF Nariman, KM Joseph and BR Gavai adjourned its hearing after Salve, appearing for the Future Group, informed them about the hearing at SIAC. The matter is scheduled for hearing before a three-judge bench on July 20.
The Future-Reliance deal was initially expected to close by March-end. However, in April, RIL had said it was extending the timeline for the Long Stop Date from March 31, 2021 too September 30, 2021.