NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The Indian group for the future expects quick approval from regulators of its $ 3.4 billion deal to sell its assets at retail, said the company’s CEO, although the warring business partner Amazon.com Inc is stepping up its efforts to block the deal.
Future and Amazon are arguing over the Indian group̵
In December, a New Delhi court rejected Future’s request to limit Amazon’s repeated attempts to force authorities to suspend the deal. But the judge left the fate of the deal to the regulators.
“The court has already expressed its view that any institution can take a look” at the sale, Future Group founder and CEO Kishore Biani told Reuters. “So there’s no reason to put things off.”
Amazon declined to comment on Bianni’s remarks. Reliance did not respond to a request for comment.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), a market regulator that has been reviewing the deal for months, did not respond to a request for comment.
The stock exchanges of SEBI and India could still reject or take longer to approve the deal, which is crucial for the survival of Future Retail, whose more than 1,700 retail outlets have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Future Retail warned that the inability to close the deal could lead to the liquidation of the company and the loss of jobs for more than 29,000 employees.
“We have rebuilt the business to some extent, but there are challenges,” said Bianni, called India’s retail king to change the country’s retail trade in recent decades.
The outcome of the dispute between Future, Reliance and Amazon is seen to shape India’s retail landscape, especially in deciding who will dominate the food market, which is expected to cost about $ 740 billion a year by 2024. .
Following Amazon’s 2019 deal with Future, the Indian retailer’s groceries and fashion products are offered for sale on Amazon’s website, while Future stores also act as local warehouses serving the US giant’s food supply chain.
Biani said he had no plans to change his business relationship with Amazon, even though he was in a relationship. However, criticizing Amazon, Biani said he was confused about what Amazon wanted to achieve by blocking its deal.
“I’m disappointed,” he said. “What do they want? They want so many employees to suffer, the business to fail?”
Amazon also took Future to a Singapore arbitrator, who in October issued an interim injunction saying the Reliance deal should be suspended. Although Future says the order is non-binding, the US e-commerce giant continues its efforts to block the deal.
In a letter Tuesday, Amazon asked Indian stock exchanges BSE and NSE to suspend review of the deal in light of ongoing Singapore arbitration.
To support its case, Amazon shared a confidential 63-page legal opinion with stock exchanges on December 30, signed by former Indian Chief Justice Deepak Misra. In a statement seen by Reuters, Misra said SEBI or any other statutory body “cannot ignore” the interim injunction issued by the arbitrator.
Misra and NSE did not respond immediately to emails seeking comment. The BSE declined to comment.
Report by Aditya Calra in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Abhirup Roy in Mumbai; Edited by William Mallard