Future’s Amazon deal set to close soon: Kishore Biyani


MUMBAI: Future Group founder Kishore Biyani said his deal to sell minority stake to Amazon has moved a step forward even as the Competition Commission of India (CCI) sought more information from the US ecommerce firm.

“It is a process to comply with information sought by the commission and to satisfy them in all aspects of the transaction which is being done and we expect a closure of the transaction soon,” said Biyani.

Amazon had sought CCI approval last month for its proposed Rs 1,500 crore deal to acquire 49% of Future Coupons through its investment arm, NV Investment Holdings LLC, which in turn will give them 3.5% stake in Future Retail, Biyani’s flagship company. In its CCI filing, it said it would acquire “voting and non-voting equity shares” of FCL in the proposed deal.

Amazon has the option to become the largest shareholder in Future Retail and can exercise this call option anytime between the third and the 10th year. However, details haven’t yet been announced or notified in the CCI filing. “It is submitted that each of the constituent steps of the proposed combination, including the acquisition of shares of FCL by the investor, on a standalone basis, are exempt transactions, and need not be notified to the Hon’ble commission,” Amazon said in its application.

Last week, Reuters reported that CCI had approached Amazon to explain the contours of the deal as well as questioned the US retailer on its procedure to seek approval, which in turn could delay the clearance.

“They wanted general information on Future Group’s operations including products and store locations which was submitted a fortnight ago. There was also a personal hearing last week and the transaction should be cleared by December,” said an official involved in the deal.

This is similar to CCI’s earlier stance when they sought details from Samara Capital last year on the role of Amazon and how the proposed deal by them to buy the More chain of supermarkets from Aditya Birla Retail was in line with the government’s revised FDI policy in ecommerce issued in December last year.

The competition watchdog’s queries to Samara Capital-owned Witzig Advisory Services was also specific to whether Amazon will be involved in day-to-day operations of More, its representation on the board and whether More will be integrated into the Amazon India marketplace. The deal was subsequently cleared by CCI in January this year.


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