Singapore International Arbitration Centre to start final hearing over plea filed by Amazon

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) will start its final hearing over a plea filed by e-commerce major Amazon against the Rs 24,713-crore deal between Future Group and Reliance Industries from July 2.

According to a regulatory filing by Future Consumer (FCL) on Saturday, a tribunal was constituted by SIAC for arbitration proceedings related to the Future-RIL deal on January 5, 2021.

The filing noted that “Future Retail Ltd (FRL) has filed two applications before the Tribunal, first being an application challenging the jurisdiction of the Tribunal; and second being an application for vacation of the EA (Emergency Arbitrator) Order”.

“According to the schedule finalised by the Tribunal, hearing for both the applications would commence on July 12, 2021,” the March quarter 2021 earnings filing by FCL said.

In August last year, Reliance Retail Ventures 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.

The deal has been contested by Amazon, an investor in Future Coupons, which in turn is a shareholder in FRL.

In August 2019, Amazon had agreed to purchase 49 per cent of one of Future’s unlisted firms, Future Coupons (which owns a 7.3 per cent 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.

Amazon had dragged Future into arbitration at SIAC and in October, an interim award was passed by the EA in favour of the US-e-commerce major 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 Future Group have also filed litigations in Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, on the issue.

Future Consumer, in its filing on Saturday, said both FRL and Amazon have filed a suit/ challenged each other's position relating to the deal/EA order in various courts of India and the matter is sub-judice and currently pending with Indian Courts for disposal.

In April, RIL had extended the timeline for completing the deal with Future Group by six months to September 30, 2021.

While the deal has received clearance from regulators such as CCI, Sebi and bourses, the scheme of arrangement is now awaiting the nod from the NCLT and shareholders.

“NCLT has heard the application relating to the Scheme (deal with Reliance) and the intervention application filed by Amazon and has reserved the order on the said application filed by Amazon,” FCL said in the filing.

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