Delhi High Court refuses to pass interim ruling against SIAC decision

Delhi High Court refuses to pass interim ruling against SIAC decision

The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to pass an interim ruling against the decision of a Singapore arbitration panel, which upheld an October 2020 emergency order restraining the Future Group from selling its assets to Reliance Retail.

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) had last week dismissed a petition by Future Retail Ltd (FRL) asking the arbitrators to lift the October 2020 stay on the ₹25,000-crore deal to sell its assets to Reliance Retail. A day earlier, the SIAC had dismissed another petition by FRL to remove it as a party to the ongoing arbitration in Singapore.

The deal was opposed by Amazon, which had approached the SIAC. The American ecommerce company claimed that it had the first right of refusal in any such asset sale by FRL under a 2019 investment deal with Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL), a promoter company of FRL.

Amazon and the Future Group did not respond to ET’s request for comment till press time Friday.

On Wednesday, both FRL and FCPL filed petitions in the Delhi High Court against the SIAC’s order. The court on Friday issued notice to NV Investment Holdings LLC and fixed the next hearing on January 4, according to two people familiar with the case.

The Supreme Court in August had ruled that SIAC’s emergency order was valid and was enforceable in India, bringing back the focus of the case on the actual arbitration process that is expected to start mid-November.

Amazon, while claiming the first right of refusal, also argued that its deal with FCPL had restrained FRL from parting with its assets to more than a dozen Indian and global corporations including Reliance.

Over the past year, there has been a flurry of petitions from both sides in the Delhi High Court, the Supreme Court and the SIAC.

Last week, Amazon filed another petition in the Supreme Court to stay an order of the National Company Law Tribunal that had allowed FRL to convene meetings of its shareholders and creditors to seek approval for the Reliance Retail deal.

The legal tussle between Amazon and Future Group started in October 2020, two months after the Future Group said it agreed to sell its assets and business on a slump sale basis to Reliance Retail.

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