Earlier this month, Amazon had approached SIAC over its dispute with Future Coupons, one of the holding companies of Biyani’s Future Group, where Amazon had invested Rs 1,431 crore, citing breach of terms due to its sale of retail assets to Reliance Industries. This was preceded with a legal notice from Amazon to Future Group.
While an interim order puts the merger on hold, the matter will continue to be heard at SIAC before the sole arbitrator, former attorney general of Singapore, comes to a decision. Legal experts said, typically, it’s the party dissatisfied with the international arbitration order that takes the matter to Indian courts, but Amazon might have to approach the Indian courts too, depending on the final order.
“This was an emergency arbitration hearing, where they (Amazon) sought an interim stay on the merger so that the Future-Reliance deal doesn’t close formally, while the matter is in international arbitration,” a person aware of the development said.
The development comes even as Reliance Industries has applied for a clearance with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) on its deal with Future Group. Sources aware of the matter said the arbitration proceedings could go on for several weeks before a final order comes. This could also have an impact on banks that have lent to Biyani’s Future Group as the lenders are reportedly worried over their loans turning into non-performing assets (NPAs) owing to arbitration proceedings delaying the merger.
“We welcome the award of the emergency arbitrator. We are grateful for the order which grants all the reliefs that were sought. We remain committed to an expeditious conclusion of the arbitration process,” a spokesperson of Amazon said on Sunday.
A Future Group spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
A spokesperson of Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL) said it is informed of the interim order and that it intends to enforce the rights and complete the transaction with Future Group without any delay. “RRVL has entered into the transaction for acquisition of assets and business of Future Retail under proper legal advice and the rights and obligations are fully enforceable under Indian law. RRVL intends to enforce its rights and complete the transaction in terms of the scheme and agreement with Future Group without any delay,” the spokesperson added.
Gopal Subramanium, former Solicitor General of India, is one of the legal counsels for Amazon. Harish Salve is representing Future Group in the matter. Meanwhile, Future Group is also considering all available legal remedies on this matter for its next course of action, one of the people mentioned earlier said. However, no decision has been made yet.