The lenders of Future Group companies rejected the ₹24,713 crore takeover deal of Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL) as they fear the Mukesh Ambani firm has lost interest in going ahead. "After they took over 830 stores of Future Group, RRVL is not ready to confirm whether they are interested in proceeding with the old offer. If so, at what price," says a Mumbai-based banker who represented the bank in the voting on Thursday.
Future group is now left with around 550 stores. Of the remaining, 70% are shut because of lack of stock supply. "Reliance which took over a major portion of the assets, may not be seeing much value in the Future assets. Besides, Amazon has got upper hand in the litigation with Future after the Supreme Court ordered to resume the arbitration case in Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)," said a source in the know.
In a plea filed by Amazon against Reliance-Future deal, the Singapore emergency arbitrator had earlier halted the deal in an interim order. Amazon, which holds 3.58% stake in Future Retail Limited (FRL) indirectly, claimed that selling Future assets to a rival company is violation of their agreement with Future.
As the lenders rejected the Reliance-Future deal, the chances of Future Group companies entering into bankruptcy proceedings is higher. A week back, Bank of India had moved the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), filing a petition to initiate insolvency proceedings against the debt-ridden Future Retail.
Future group companies owe about ₹20,000 crore to the banks and ₹8,000 crore to vendors.
Due to financial crisis, FRL was unable to pay rent to landlords for more than two years and most of them terminated the leases. At that point of time, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) stepped in and signed the leases with landlords and then sub-leased to FRL to continue operations. "When FRL was unable to pay ₹1,500-2,000 crore, RIL terminated the leases and took possession of the stores," senior lawyer Harish Salve, who represented Future, recently said in the Supreme Court.
Amazon recently issued a public notice in newspapers, accusing FRL of transferring hundreds of its stores to Reliance in a "clandestine manner." "The actions have been done in a clandestine manner by playing a fraud on the constitutional court of India, the arbitral tribunal and Indian statutory authorities/agencies," Amazon alleged in the notice.