‘Future’s shareholders’ meet to approve RIL deal is illegal’

NEW DELHI: Amazon has written to Big Bazaar-parent Future Retail alleging that the upcoming meetings of its shareholders and creditors for the approval of the retailer’s proposed Rs 24,700-crore deal with Reliance Retail is “illegal”.

Kishore Biyani-led FRL has convened shareholders’ and creditors’ meetings for the approval on April 20 and 21 in line with a February 29 order of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). In the 16-page letter dated April 16, which TOI has reviewed, Amazon urged FRL to abide by the injunctions granted by the Singapore-based emergency arbitrator which had put on hold the proposed Reliance-FRL deal.

“…any attempt to defeat the injunctions and seek to vote on the basis of forged documents, in light of Amazon’s categorical denial that it has not given its consent to either the directors of FCPL or any representatives of FCPL or the Promoters would amount to taking cognizance of a forged document with the intent to deceive and cheat, which would render all parties, whether acting directly or abetting such act liable to actions in accordance with law,”

Amazon wrote in the letter. While a spokesperson for FRL refused to comment on this story, a person in know of the matter told TOI that FRL was simply following what the NCLT has approved. “You cannot just shoot off a letter and threaten somebody,” he said.

“If you have a problem with the meetings that have been approved by the NCLT, you should approach the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).” Although Reliance moved in to take control of a majority of FRL’s stores due to non-payment of rentals—Reliance had sublet the premises to FRL—the proposed deal has been the bone of contention between Amazon and FRL as both parties have been embroiled in a lengthy litigation.

Amazon’s contention that the deal is “illegal” is based on its 2019 investment in Future Coupons (FCPL), which the US e-tailer has claimed gave it protective rights over FRL, as FCPL held a stake in FRL. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) had, however, suspended its approval for the Amazon-FCPL deal in December over FRL’s complaints.