The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) on January 6 announced the formation of a three member arbitration panel headed by justice Micahel Hwang, former judicial commissioner of the Supreme Court of Singapore to pronounce the final verdict on the ongoing tussle between Amazon and Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail for its sale to Reliance Industries.
The reports stated that the case will come up for hearing over the next few weeks.
The SIAC on October 25 had passed an interim injunction order to stop the proposed acquisition of Future Group’s retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses by Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL), a subsidiary of RIL, for $3.8 billion.
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) already granted its approval for the proposed deal on November 20.
The development is the latest in the months-long tussle between the three companies, which began in October, when Amazon alleged that RIL’s acquisition of select Future Group units violated its shareholder agreement with Future Retail, in which it has an indirect minority stake.
The story so far:
August 23, 2019
Amazon acquired a 49% stake in Future Coupons, a Future Group business. The transaction gave Amazon an indirect minority stake in Future Retail.
August 31, 2020
Reliance announced that it is set to acquire Future Group for $3.38 billion, with a proposed investment of $16.4 million into another subsidiary, Future Enterprises, for a 6.09% stake. It also proposed to invest $54.7 million for an additional 7.05% stake in Future Enterprises upon conversion and payment of new equity warrants.
October 5, 2020
Amazon filed a notice of arbitration and applied for emergency interim relief under SIAC rules on the proposed acquisition. Amazon also filed for damages of $193 million, along with interest being the amount invested by Amazon in Future Coupons.
October 6, 2020
Future Retail filed its objection with the SIAC, stating that the company was not party to the arbitration agreement with Amazon.
October 25, 2020
SIAC issued an injunction on the proposed acquisition of Future Group’s business assets by RIL. The order prohibited promoters of Future Group from selling off shares or assets of the company without clearance from the claimant, i.e, Amazon.
October 26, 2020
RIL subsidiary Reliance Retail Ventures (RRVL) informed stock exchanges that it would go ahead with the acquisition of Future Group’s assets as planned despite the SIAC injunction.
November 1, 2020
Future Retail responded to queries and clarifications sought by markets regulator SEBI and the stock exchanges, with respect to the delay in filing a disclosure on the SIAC injunction. The response filing also said that the exchanges should not take cognizance of the SIAC order, since it had no legal grounds in India.
Additionally, as per a Reuters report published on Wednesday, the NSE in late October warned Future Retail of regulatory action for not making timely market disclosures on the proceedings.
November 4, 2020
Separately, Future Retail also filed a caveat petition in the Delhi High Court, asking for an opportunity to be heard of Amazon filed a plea against it.
November 9, 2020
Future Retail filed a plea in the Delhi High Court, seeking relief from the SIAC injunction. Passed in October, the injunction put the acquisition on hold for 90 days.
November 20, 2020
Competition watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) cleared the RIL-Future Group deal.
Commission approves acquisition of retail, wholesale, logistics & warehousing businesses of Future Group by Reliance Retail Ventures Limited and Reliance Retail and Fashion Lifestyle Limited pic.twitter.com/4WKdIrLHRP— CCI (@CCI_India) November 20, 2020
November 26, 2020
Future Retail shares fell 4.55% at market close on the same day that SIAC refused to exempt Future Retail from being a party to the arbitration proceedings. The BSE has sought clarification from Future Retail on significant movement in price to safeguard investor interest.
November 27, 2020
Future Retail told the exchanges that the movement in share prices -- it traded in the 10% upper circuit since Monday after CCI cleared the acquisition, but slipped 4.55% on Thursday -- was driven purely by speculative market forces, adding that it had no comment to offer.
December 21, 2020
A single bench of justice Mukta Gupta at Delhi High Court did not admit the plea filed by Future Retail (FRL), which sought an interim injunction against Amazon. The plea aimed to prevent the ecommerce giant from writing to Indian regulators to make its case on the back of the October 25 SIAC injunction. The decision gives legitimacy to the order passed by the international arbitrator.
January 06, 2021
According to media reports, SIAC has constituted a three member panel to pass the final verdict on the arbitration notice filed by Amazon in early October.