Reliance-Future's Rs 24,000-Crore Deal Cleared By Market Regulator SEBI

Future Group had sold its retail assets in August to Reliance in a deal Amazon said breached agreements Future made with the US ecommerce leader in 2019.

Reliance-Future's Rs 24,000-Crore Deal Cleared By Market Regulator SEBI

Reliance and Future announced the deal in August last year.

New Delhi:

Reliance Industries' Rs 24,713-crore deal to buy Future Group's retail assets was cleared by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Wednesday, in a blow to Amazon's efforts to block the agreement.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) also granted its "no adverse observation" report to the deal the clearance from the market regulator that included some riders.

The SEBI has said the case pending before the Delhi High Court and arbitration proceedings by the global e-commerce major Amazon contesting the deal should be specifically mentioned by Future Group while seeking shareholders or the National Company Law Tribunal approval, the BSE said.

It has also held that SEBI's go-ahead on the draft scheme of arrangement would be subject to the outcome of these proceedings.

Commenting on the development, an Amazon spokesperson said: "The letters issued by BSE & NSE clearly state that comments of SEBI on the "draft scheme of arrangement" (proposed transaction) are subject to the outcome of the ongoing arbitration and any other legal proceedings. We will continue to pursue our legal remedies to enforce our rights."

Last month, the Delhi High Court dismissed a plea from Future Group that sought to restrain Amazon from interfering in the asset sale to Reliance.

Future sold its retail assets in August to Reliance in a deal Amazon said breached agreements Future made with the US ecommerce leader in 2019.

In October, Amazon had won an injunction to halt the sale from a Singapore arbitrator that the sides had agreed to use in case of dispute.

Future later said the order was not binding, prompting Amazon to lodge a complaint with SEBI.

Future is widely credited as transforming India's retail sector in recent decades. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the business so hard that founder Kishore Biyani sought a buyer.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved Future's sale of its retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses to billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance in November.

India's retail sector is likely to grow 46 percent over the next four years to an annual Rs 95 lakh crore, showed data from Forrester Research. The key battle is over groceries, likely to be worth around Rs 54 lakh crore a year by 2024, the data showed.

Reliance and Future dominate the market in India, with the next competitor, Avenue Supermarts's DMart, being far behind in terms of stores and reach.

(With inputs from agencies)