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Amazon vs Future: Delhi HC directs Kishore Biyani to maintain status quo on RIL deal

Source: PTI
February 02, 2021 22:44 IST
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Future Retail Ltd (FRL) on Tuesday said it will explore all legal remedies to pursue its Rs 24,713-crore deal with RIL following a Delhi high court order directing status quo to be maintained till the court pronounces its order.

IMAGE: Kishore Biyani. Photograph: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters.

Earlier in the day, a Delhi high court bench of Justice J R Midha directed FRL to maintain status quo in relation to its deal with Reliance Retail that has been objected to by US-based e-commerce giant, Amazon.

Amazon welcomed the latest court directive.

"The company is legally advised that the basis of the interim award of the Emergency Arbitrator has been superseded by the judgement dated December 21, 2020 passed by the Learned Single Judge Justice Mukta Gupta of Hon'ble Delhi high court,” FRL said in a statement.

 

It added that “the company will explore all legal remedies and take appropriate steps to pursue the scheme of arrangement”.

FRL noted that the scheme of arrangement has already received approval from CCI and no objection from SEBI, following which it had approached NCLT, Mumbai on January 26, 2021.

The application is yet to be taken up by the NCLT, it said.

Last month, Amazon had approached the Delhi High Court seeking enforcement of the interim order of the Emergency Arbitrator (EA) at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) that had restrained FRL from going ahead with the deal with Reliance.

Amazon welcomed the latest court directive. "We have utmost respect for the Indian legal system and appreciate the interim order of the Hon'ble Delhi high court to uphold the enforceability of the Emergency Arbitrator's order and maintain status quo," an Amazon spokesperson said.

Justice J R Midha said the court was satisfied that an immediate interim order was required to be passed to protect the rights of Amazon.

"Respondents (FRL) and other respondents are directed to maintain status quo as on today at 4:49 PM till pronouncement of the reserved order," the judge said.

Amazon has sought to restrain Kishore Biyani-led Future Group from taking any steps to complete the transaction with entities that are a part of the Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani (MDA) Group.

The high court, which heard the matter for four consecutive days, reserved its order on the main petition.

It also directed all other concerned authorities to maintain status quo in relation to the matters which are in violation of the emergency award and to file status report with regard to the present status within 10 days.

Amazon had dragged Future Group to arbitration at SIAC, arguing that Future violated their contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance.

On October 25, 2020, an interim award was passed in favour of Amazon with a single-judge bench of V K Rajah barring 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.

After this, the Future Group filed a plea with the Delhi high court.

On December 21, a single-member bench rejected the plea to restrain Amazon from writing to regulatory authorities about the SIAC arbitral order but gave a go-ahead to the regulators to decide over the deal.

The court had also made several observations indicating that Amazon's attempt to control FRL through a conflation of agreements Amazon has with an unlisted unit of the Indian company will be violative of the FEMA FDI rules.

Amazon, in its petition, had also sought detention of Future Group founders, including CEO Kishore Biyani, and seizure of their assets as it sought to block the Future-Reliance deal.

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