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Big win for Amazon, Supreme Court restrains $3.4 billion Future-Reliance merger deal NV Investment Holdings LLC and FRL are entangled in a legal fight over this deal and the US-based firm has sought in the SC that the EA award was valid and enforceable.

Huge relief for Amazon as SC says Singapore's EA award against FRL-Reliance Retail merger enforceable-dnm
New Delhi, First Published Aug 6, 2021, 11:32 AM IST

In a significant victory for Amazon, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the American firm on its petition against the $3.4 billion merger deal between Future Group and Reliance Industries' retail subsidiary Reliance Retail.

The apex court ruled that Singapore's Emergency Arbitrator award, which restrained Future Retail Ltd from going ahead with its Rs 24,731 crore merger deal with Reliance Retail, is enforceable in Indian law.

Amazon, represented by Gopal Subramanium, had contended in the Apex court that the Biyanis of Future Group had negotiated with it to enter into certain agreements. 

The company also said that Future Retail Limited is bound by the EA award restraining it from going ahead with Reliance Retail merger.

Countering this, Senior advocate Harish Salve, who was appearing for Future Retail Limited, said that there was no provision for EA under the Indian Law.

Future Retail Limited, which is India's second-largest retailer with over 1,700 stores, said it would be pushed towards liquidation if the deal with Reliance falls through.

The Apex court, however, ruled in Amazon's favour.

The case stems from the August 2020 agreement reached by the Future Group to sell its logistics, retail, wholesale and warehousing units to Reliance. 

Amazon took Future Retail Limited into EA before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre over the alleged breach of contract by the Future group. Amazon claimed its 2019 agreement with the Future Group had a clause that stated that the Indian group could not sell its retail assets to anyone on the restricted persons' list. The list, according to Amazon, included Reliance.

Amazon then knocked on the Delhi High Court's doors seeking directives to enforce the October 2020 EA award by SIAC restraining Future Retail Limited from proceeding with the deal with Reliance Retail.

The high court division bench, however, ruled that it was staying the single-judge order as Future Retail Limited was not part of the share subscription agreement between Amazon and Reliance Group's Fine Tech Commercials Private Limited. 

The court also ruled that Amazon was not a party to the Future Retail Limited-Reliance deal.

Amazon appealed against the verdict in the Supreme Court, claiming that the high court order was arbitrary and illegal.

Amazon also contended that unless the Supreme Court intervened, the company $6.5 billion in investments in India could face irreparable harm.

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