New Delhi:

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Future Group’s plea against the Delhi High Court’s refusal to stay a Singapore tribunal order that froze the Rs 24,731 crore transaction with Reliance Retail.

The top court will hear this matter on November 23. Significantly, the court also asked the Future Group to not pursue this matter at any other forum till it hears the case.

The Future Group plea had sought court permission to hold meetings with shareholders and creditors to seek approval for the deal with Reliance Retail.

The court has also agreed to hear a plea by e-commerce giant Amazon – which is looking to block the Future-Reliance deal – that seeks to restrain Indian regulators from granting necessary clearances.

Amazon has said the proposed Future-Reliance merger violates a ‘no-compete’ deal between itself and the Future Group. A notice has been issued by the court in this context.

“Don’t see how we can allow Future Group to proceed at this stage (regarding the Reliance deal). If Future Group is allowed to proceed, nothing will remain in this case,” the Supreme Court observed.

Last year the Future Group – one of India’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailers, with brands like Big Bazaar in its stable – agreed to sell retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing ops to Reliance.

Future Retail, as part of the deal, will sell supermarket chain Big Bazaar, premium food supply unit Foodhall and fashion label Brand Factory’s retail, as well as wholesale units, to Reliance Retail.

However, last year Future also entered into an agreement with Amazon that saw the latter acquire a 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons, the promoter firm of Future Retail.

Amazon has cited this to claim the Future-Reliance agreement violates a ‘non-compete’ clause and ‘right-of-first-refusal’ pact it had signed with the Future Group. The Future-Amazon deal also required the Future Group to inform Amazon before entering into a sale agreement with third parties.

The Future Group has countered saying it had not sold any stake in the company and was merely selling its assets. Therefore, the company has said, it had not violated any terms of the contract.

Last month the Delhi High Court refused to interfere with the Singapore tribunal’s order restraining the Future Group from going ahead with its Rs 24,731 crore merger with Reliance Retail. Amazon had dragged Future to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre last October.



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