Future Group moves Delhi High Court over RIL deal restraining order

The Future Group has moved the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court (HC) against the order passed by a single-member Bench, which directed to stay its Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Industries to sell the firm’s retail and wholesale business.

The Kishore Biyani-led group firm, Future Retail (FRL), has now filed an appeal before the higher Bench of the same HC against the orders passed by a single-member Bench of Justice J R Midha, Future Retail said in a regulatory filing.

“The company has filed an appeal before the High Court of Delhi against the impugned order dated March 18, 2021 passed by single judge…,” said Future Retail.

Earlier, in a statement on Friday, Future Retail had said the order of the single-member Bench would have no impact on the ongoing proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which is presently going through the scheme of arrangement between the Future Group and Reliance Retail.

The NCLT has reserved its order over the scheme of arrangement that entails the consolidation of Future Group’s retail and wholesale business and transferring it to Reliance in a Rs 24,713-crore deal that was announced in August last year.

The Future-Reliance deal, which is contested by global e-commerce major Amazon, has already received clearance from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), Sebi and bourses, and the scheme of arrangement is now awaiting the nod from the NCLT and shareholders. Passing a 134-page long judgement, Justice Midha had on Thursday directed Kishore Biyani-led FRL not to take further action on the deal with Reliance and held that the group willfully violated the EA’s order.

The HC had rejected all the objections raised by Future Group and imposed a cost of Rs 20 lakh on it as well as its directors.

It had directed them to deposit the amount in Prime Minister’s Relief Fund within two weeks for being used for providing Covid-19 vaccination to senior citizens of Below Poverty Line (BPL) category of Delhi.

The HC’s judgement came on Amazon’s plea seeking direction to order enforcement of the Award by Singapore’s EA on October 25, 2020, restraining FRL from going ahead with its Rs 24,713-crore deal with Reliance Retail.

However, Future Retail had said: “We are advised that this order does not come in the way of the continuance of the ongoing NCLT proceedings, being inconsistent with the order dated February 22, 2021, of the Supreme Court”.

It is to be pointed out that the portions of the operative part of this detailed order, already covered by the ad-interim order dated February 2, 2021, have been stayed by the Division Bench of Delhi HC in an appeal filed by Future Retail.

“Amazon has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the order passed by the Division Bench. The Supreme Court, in its order in Amazon’s appeal, has not vacated the stay granted by the Division Bench (which stay is still in operation).”

“The Supreme Court has directed that, in the meantime, the NCLT proceedings will be allowed to go on but will not culminate in any final order of sanction of scheme,” Future Retail had said. On August 29, 2020, the Future Group had announced that its retail and wholesale business would be sold to Reliance Retail, owned by oil-to-chemical conglomerate RIL in a Rs 24,713-crore deal.

In October 2020, Amazon dragged Future Group to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), arguing that Future violated the contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance.

Amazon and Future have been locked in a bitter legal tussle after the US e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at SIAC, arguing that the latter had violated their contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance.  Business Standard

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