Reliance deal will save jobs of 25,000 employees: Future Retail lawyer

In August 2020, the Future group struck a $3.4-billion asset sale deal with RIL
A lawyer for Future Retail Limited (FRL) on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that Reliance has offered Rs 24,000 crore deal to Future which will take all the liabilities and save the jobs of 25,000 employees. The lawyer argued that all the banks and shareholders of Future are safe through this deal as it put money on the table.

The Delhi High Court is hearing the appeal filed by Future Retail Limited (FRL) against the Court's order passed earlier this week. It had asked FRL to maintain the status quo with respect to its $3.4 billion (about Rs 24,700 crore) deal with Reliance Retail. The court had said it was satisfied that an immediate interim order was required to be passed to protect the rights of e-commerce firm Amazon.

“Reliance will pay future salaries. Reliance will give cash to Future,” said Senior Advocate Harish Salve who appeared for FRL, according to law platform Bar & Bench. “In today's time when people are looking at this glimmer of light.. you want to kill this company. You have a deal in hand.”

In August 2020, the Future group struck a $3.4-billion asset sale deal with RIL. Amazon then sent a legal notice to Future, alleging the retailer’s deal breached an agreement with the American e-commerce firm. In 2019, Amazon had acquired a 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons (FCPL), the promoter entity of Future Retail, for about Rs 1,500 crore.

Salve who again likened Amazon to 'East India Company' told the court that Amazon’s investment in Future is now worth zero because of the pandemic and it may get back some value through the Future-Reliance deal.

“They don't care as long as Mukesh Ambani led Reliance doesn’t get the deal,” Salve told the court. Even if there is an option of compensation, Salve informed the court that the e-commerce giant’s real mischief is that they don’t care about the investment and employees and it doesn’t want its competitor (Ambani) get the shops.

Salve contended that Amazon has a deal with FCPL (Future Coupons Pvt Ltd) and it is their dispute. He argued that FRL has no agreement with Amazon and there is no Arbitration Agreement between the two. He informed the court that FRL can't sign a deal without Amazon’s permission is being enforced against the company.

Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium who appeared for Amazon contended that there was an arbitration clause under which were the SIAC (Singapore International Arbitration Centre) Rules. The arbitration clause contemplated SIAC Rules. He referred to the clause on remedies (injunction) available to parties in case of a breach. The SIAC Rules contemplate that an Arbitrator includes an Emergency Arbitrator (EA).

Subramanium informed the court that FRL appeared before EA and the matter was heard at length and detailed order was pronounced on October 25, 2020.

“Emergency Arbitrator injuncted FRL and all Respondents. He prima facie held that there was a breach,” Subramanium told the court. “Order of Arbitrator is deemed to be an order of the court.”

The matter is being heard before Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh. The hearing has been adjourned till February 5.


Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel