The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has agreed to hear Amazon’s plea challenging the Competition Commission of India’s (ICC) decision to suspend the company’s 2019 deal with Future Coupons. The NCLAT on Thursday, while denying Amazon’s request to suspend CCI’s decision, called on both the regulator and Future Coupons to file their response within the next 10 days.
Why does Amazon want the NCLAT to reverse the ICC decision on the Future Coupons deal?
A main argument that Amazon made before the NCLAT was that since signing the agreement with Future Coupons in 2019, the ICC could not have gone back more than 12 months to review and then suspend the agreement. Amazon’s lawyer also questioned how the competition regulator could have reviewed its own order authorizing the deal almost after two years.
In its December 17 order suspending Amazon’s deal with Future Coupons, the TCC also asked Amazon to seek new approval for the deal by filing Form II. Amazon also opposed this CCI request and said that since the agreement with Future Coupons was strategic, the regulator could not have reviewed the entire agreement. “Form II is given when there is an activity. Here the investment was, if there was a change in the policy of the Indian government or if you got the approval from the government, there was some option to buy. Because we called it (agreed) strategic, the commission plans to review the whole case,” Amazon attorney Gopal Subramaniam said.
Why did the ICC suspend Amazon’s deal with Future Coupons two years after approving it?
In its December order suspending the deal, the CCI said Amazon had “misled” the regulator about its intentions regarding its investment in Future Coupons. In its order, the TCC asserted that Amazon had “misled the Commission into believing, through material misrepresentations and omissions, that the Combination and its subject matter constituted Amazon’s interest in FCPL’s business”. The regulator added that Amazon had removed “the objective of establishing strategic alignment and partnership between the Amazon Group and FRL (Future Retail Ltd) as well as having a ‘foot in the door’ in the retail sector. retail in India”.
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What will happen next in the Amazon-Future Coupons legal battle?
So far, Amazon and Future Group have filed more than a dozen lawsuits against each other in various forums, such as Delhi High Court, National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, and High Court. supreme. Apart from this, these two companies are also engaged in arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC).
At the next NCLAT hearing on February 2, Amazon will try to prove why the TCC could not have reversed its earlier order when it granted its approval of the deal, while Future is likely to argue that since the agreement has now been suspended, the NCLAT should not allow the plea.
Apart from the NCLAT, Amazon and Future Group are also fighting in the Supreme Court, where the Future Group challenged the Delhi High Court’s refusal to grant a stay of an arbitral tribunal’s decision refusing to interfere with the SIAC Emergency Award (EA).