Amid ongoing legal battle with Kishore Biyani-led Future Group, US-based Amazon has sent another letter to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), requesting the market regulator not to issue a 'no-objection certificate' (NOC) to Future Retail's Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Industries and suspend the review immediately. The e-commerce giant has also urged SEBI to prohibit Indian stock exchanges from issuing any approval letter to Future Retail Limited (FRL).
"In view of the directions in the operative part of the Interim Award, we request your good offices to take action by inter alia: (i) suspending review of the impugned transaction as well as the scheme involving the impugned transaction, and not granting any no-objection in relation to the same; and (ii) directing the Indian Stock Exchanges not to issue any no-objection/approval letter to FRL," Amazon said in a letter dated January 14, 2021.
The development came a day after the Delhi High Court served a notice to Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail on Amazon's plea challenging the prima facie observations by a single judge that the US e-commerce giant's attempt to control the Indian entity was violative of FEMA and FDI rules. Amazon has asked for the observations to be set aside as they have a bearing on its case in arbitration proceedings that were initiated before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).
The US firm, represented by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, has contended that the observations are inconsistent with the findings in the SIAC emergency arbitral (EA) order dated October 25, 2020, against FRL's asset sale to Reliance Retail.
The court has listed the matter for hearing on February 12.
In October last year, Amazon Inc. had approached the SIAC, alleging that Future Group violated the contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance. In an interim order in December 2020, a single-judge bench of Delhi High Court had refused to restrain Amazon from interfering in Future-Reliance deal by writing to the statutory authorities. The order was passed by the bench while hearing a plea filed by Future Retail after an EA of the SIAC halted the deal with retail arm of Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate.
Earlier this month, SIAC formed a three-member panel to pass its final verdict on Future Group's deal with Reliance. Both the parties have reportedly agreed to the names of the three-member arbitration panel led by Michael Hwang, ex-judicial commissioner of the Supreme Court of Singapore, required for the arbitration process, which is expected to start soon. It could take 6-9 months before a decision is made.
By Chitranjan Kumar