SC asks if he can prevent the disposal of FRL assets

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The Supreme Court asked Friday whether it could issue an interim order on an Amazon plea that Future Retail Ltd’s assets, including “Big Bazaar stores,” would not be disposed of until the dispute over its merger with Reliance Retail be decided by the arbitral tribunal.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, who has now released the US e-commerce major’s plea for a rehearing on April 4, said the owners of the FRL stores are not before him and the issue is whether such an order restricting the disposition of assets until the conclusion of the arbitration can be adopted.

“If the tenants or landlords are not before us, how can the court make an order prohibiting them from taking possession (of the stores),” said the bench which also included judges Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli.

Reuters reported that Reliance privately defended a brutal takeover of stores from indebted rival Future Retail, saying soaring dues of $634 million forced it to act beyond expectations, according to a letter from the company. .

The takeover was part of a race to dominate a $900 billion retail sector that sparked a bitter dispute in which India’s Supreme Court will decide whether Reliance or Amazon.com Inc can recover the assets of Future.

The March 8 letter, seen by Reuters, reveals for the first time Reliance’s position on the events of the night of February 25, when staff suddenly showed up at many of its rival’s stores to take control of payments missed rentals.

The decision stunned not only Future but also Amazon, which invoked breach of certain contracts to legally block, since 2020, a $3.4 billion deal between the two Indian giants.

In the letter, Reliance said it went “far and truly beyond what could be expected” to keep Future “out of harm’s way” as it took “significant steps” to ensure the continuity of the Future’s activities and ensure that there were “no impediments”. to their business.

These measures included financial support of 48 billion rupees ($634 million), comprising 11 billion rupees of unpaid rent and 37 billion rupees of working capital.

Over the months, Reliance had taken over the leases of more than 900 of Future’s 1,500 stores, while allowing the company to manage them.

Future – which has more than 1,700 outlets, including popular Big Bazaar stores – was unable to make rental payments for the bulk of its outlets.

With landlords insisting on payouts or store closures, Reliance transferred the leases of some stores to its name and sublet them to Future to operate the stores. It also offered jobs to all of Future Retail’s 30,000 employees.

Also, the majority of inventory for these stores was supplied by Reliance JioMart, as a cash-strapped FRL could not pay dues to existing vendors.

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