Future-Reliance deal: Delhi HC stays single-bench status quo order


The Delhi High Court on Monday stayed the implementation of single-judge order to Future Retail Ltd (FRL) and various statutory authorities to maintain status quo regarding the Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Retail. The court also turned down Amazon’s request to keep its order in abeyance for a week so that it can explore appropriate remedies.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh passed in the interim direction on FRL’s appeal challenging the February 2 order of the single-judge bench. While staying the February 2 order, the court said that statutory authorities, like National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), cannot be restrained from proceeding in accordance with law with regard to the deal.

The court also issued notice to Amazon and sought its stand on FRL’s appeal by February 26 when it will commence day-to-day hearing of the matter. On February 2, the single-bench court of Justice JR Midha had blocked Future Group’s deal with Reliance Industries after Amazon raised objections. The court had passed the order while hearing Amazon’s plea on an emergency award passed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), which restrained Future from selling retail assets to Reliance.

In October last year, Amazon Inc. had approached the SIAC, alleging that Future Group violated the contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance and demanded to halt the deal with Mukesh Ambani-led company. In August 2019, Amazon had agreed to purchase 49 per cent of one of Future’s unlisted firms — Future Coupons Ltd — with the right to buy into flagship Future Retail after a period of three to ten years. Future Coupons holds 7.3 per cent equity in BSE-listed FRL — that operates popular supermarket and hypermarket chains such as Big Bazaar — through convertible warrants. In August 2020, Future reached an agreement to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL) — which operates the retail business of RIL — for Rs 24,713 crore.