Amazon, Future Group Dispute: A Timeline

It has been more than one and a half years since the conflict between Amazon and Future started

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In September 2019, Amazon had acquired 49 per cent stake in Future Group subsidiary, Future Coupons, which owns 7.3 per cent shares in Future Retail. The e-commerce giant claimed that its deal had mentioned a list of 30 entities with whom the Future Coupons could not transact, including Reliance Retail.

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In August 2020, Kishore Biyani-led Future Group that was on the verge of bankruptcy signed an MoU with Reliance Retail for the sale of its consumer retail arm for INR 24,713 Cr. Post this deal, Amazon initiated arbitration proceedings at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and asked to block the deal. After SIAC passed interim order to restrict the deal, Future approached Delhi Court in November 2020.

The dispute reached the Supreme Court in April and in July 2021 the Competition Commission of India (CCI) sent a show-cause notice to Amazon over the deal saying it was a misrepresentation of interests and concealment of material facts. The conflict is still on with the SC recently seeking a response from the Future Group on why arbitration proceedings by Amazon against it before a Singapore tribunal should not resume.

Let's look at the exact timeline of the turn of events:

2019

  • In September 2019, Amazon acquires 49 per cent stake in Future Group subsidiary, Future Coupons, which owns 7.3 per cent shares in Future Retail. This gives the e-commerce giant an indirect share in Future Retail.

2020

  • Reliance Retail announces to acquire consumer retail business of Future Group.
  • Amazon then reaches out to Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) to stop the Future Group from selling assets, which then passes interim order to stop the deal.
  • Future Group then approaches Delhi Court against SIAC order, alleging non-jurisdiction.

2021

  • SIAC forms an arbitration tribunal to relook at the case while Delhi HC orders a status quo.
  • Delhi HC declines Future's pleas saying willful violation and lifts the status quo.
  • Reliance asks for permission from National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Mumbai to hold meetings of their shareholders and creditors to consider and approve the proposed merger with Future Group's retail, logistics and warehousing business in an INR crore deal
  • CCI slaps show-cause notice on Amazon
  • The Supreme Court upholds the emergency arbitrator award
  • Future Group then files a new case against Amazon
  • Future asks for its exclusion from Amazon's arbitration to SIAC, which denies the same.
  • Meanwhile, NCLT allows Reliance and Future Group to hold shareholders' meet for acquisition
  • Future Group's independent directors then write to CCI asking to revoke Amazon's part acquisition of Future Coupons in November 2019. It gives FDI, FEMA violations as reasons.
  • The e-commerce giant reportedly asks to withdraw application made against it.
  • Meanwhile, there are reports of an out-of-the-court settlement, where Amazon had asked for compensation against its objections to the deal
  • Delhi HC tells CCI to give a ruling on the pleas filed to revoke approval to the Amazon's investment in Future Coupons
  • Amazon moves the apex court, which then agrees to hear Amazon's plea against the Delhi HC's order telling CCI to expedite its ruling.
  • CCI temporarily suspends the Amazon-Future Coupons deal from 2019.

2022

  • Future Retail Limited (FRL) writes to Delhi HC asking the court to clear the arbitration as illegal.
  • Meanwhile, Future Retail Ltd misses the INR 3494.56 Cr payment deadline to its lenders, blames the dispute with Amazon
  • The Delhi High Court dismisses Future Group's petitions that sought to terminate Amazon's application against the Future-Reliance deal.
  • Amazon proposes financial assistance to FRL.
  • The independent directors of FRL reportedly agree to accept Amazon's offer of financial assistance.
  • Amazon reportedly seeks FRL's financials and other data for Samara Capital to perform due diligence.
  • Independent directors call off the offer calling it a "smokescreen' and "PR exercise'.
  • Amazon re-extends its INR 7,000 Cr loan offer.
  • Meanwhile, SC sets aside Delhi HCs order that halted the deal between Future and Reliance Retail.
  • SC asks Delhi HC's single-judge-headed branch to "consider the issue and pass an order on its own merits uninfluenced by observations".
  • SC directs bankers and FRL to work out a solution in two weeks.
  • The lenders reportedly propose opening FRL's assets for auction, where both Amazon and Reliance could bid.