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Amazon requests Supreme Court to stay HC order until conclusion of Future-Reliance Deal dispute

Amazon requests Supreme Court to stay HC order until conclusion of Future-Reliance Deal dispute

Amazon has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court's division bench order that had vacated a stay on Kishore Biyani-led Future Group proceeding with its Rs 24,713 crore asset sale to Reliance Industries.

Amazon asked for a stay of the division bench's (March 22, 2021) decision, calling it "illegal," "random," "inequitable," and "unfair" 

Future Group was issued a reprieve from a (March 18, 2021) single-judge order prohibiting it from selling properties to Reliance on (March 22, 2021), by a division bench of the High Court of Delhi. 

Amazon has now challenged the (March 22, 2021) injunction in the Supreme Court, seeking a stay until the conclusion of the earlier deal-related lawsuit. 

“The Interim order & stay of the impugned Interim Common Order dated (March 22, 2021) passed by the Honourable High Court of Delhi before the questions raised herein are eventually resolved by this Honourable Court,” Amazon wrote in its Supreme Court petition. Amazon's petition, a copy of which was seen by the news agency. It also asked the Superior Court to issue some further orders that it "may find fit & proper in the facts & conditions of the current case."

Amazon & Future Retail Ltd (FRL) did not respond to e-mailed queries:

The division bench made a ‘grave mistake’ in passing an injunction in a ‘non-maintainable appeal,’ allowing Future Group to continue to violate the EA (Emergency Arbitration) order, according to Amazon's plea. 

The single judge had delivered a well-reasoned order covering over 130 pages, according to Amazon, and the division bench had issued an emergency order in a mechanical way, halting operations for the same reasons. “As a result, the petitioner (Amazon) came before this Court by filing an SLP (special leave petition),” it said.

Previously, Amazon had filed a complaint with the Supreme Court after a single judge issued an interim order on February 2, 2021, halting the deal, and a division bench on February 8, 2021, stayed the order's action over a plea filed by FRL.

The Supreme Court then provided notice in response to Amazon's plea, allowing the scheme of a deal between Future and Reliance to continue before the Mumbai Bench of the ‘National Company Law Tribunal’ (NCLT), but these bodies were not to issue any orders sanctioning the deal.

The plea is set for hearing on (April 27, 2021).

The Future-Reliance contract, which is being challenged by multinational e-commerce behemoth Amazon, has already secured CCI, SEBI, and bourse approval, and the scheme of arrangement is now pending NCLT and shareholder approval. In the Rs 24,713 crore deal announced in August last year, Future Group's retail and wholesale assets will be consolidated into one company, Future Enterprises Ltd, before being transferred to Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL). Meanwhile, ‘Reliance Retail has extended the deadline for the sale to close by six months, to September 30, 2021’.

Since the US e-commerce company took Future Group to SIAC arbitration in October last year, claiming that the latter had breached their contract by entering into the agreement with rival Reliance, the two companies have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle. In August of 2019, Amazon made a strategic investment in Future Coupons, with the option to buy into the flagship Future Retail after three to ten years.

On (October 25, 2020), a single-judge bench led by V K Rajah passed an interim order in favour of Amazon, prohibiting Future Retail from disposing of or encumbering its properties or selling securities to obtain funding from a restricted entity.

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