Sunday, February 5, 2023

NCLAT suspends deal between Amazon and Future Coupons on incomplete disclosure

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The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Monday suspended the deal between e-commerce major Amazon and the Future Coupons Pvt Ltd, stating that the former did not make full disclosures.

Upholding the order passed by the Competition Commission of India, the Tribunal directed Amazon to pay a penalty of Rs 200 crore within 45 days.

CCI had, in December 2021, suspended the over two-year-old approval granted to Amazon for its deal with FCPL.

The Fair trade regulator, in a 57-page order, had observed that the e-commerce giant had suppressed information, while seeking clearances for the transaction.

CCI said that the approval for the Amazon-Future Coupons deal “shall remain in abeyance”.

Amazon challenged this order in NCLAT.

Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Amazon, challenged the CCI’s power to revisit the 2019 approval.

It further challenged the power to examine the submissions made before other courts.

The petition alleged that lack of due and fair procedure before the CCI suspended its earlier approval.

Additional Solicitor General N Venkataraman, appearing for CCI, responded by saying that the scope of its 2019 approval was only the coupons, gift and payment business and FRL’s role in that was of a coupon issuer.

He said the CCI was told that the purpose of the transaction was Amazon’s interest in the coupons business of Future Coupons, but the real intent was to gain control over Future Retail—the company which runs retail brand stores, including the Big Bazaar chain.

There was misrepresentation and concealment, which culminated into a fraud, he added.

Senior advocate Harish salve, representing the Future Group, defended the CCI’s action by saying that the regulator had the power to suspend Amazon’s 2019 deal with Future Coupons.

The arguments were seconded by Senior Advocate Ramji Srinivasan, who said the law made it mandatory for the acquirer in a combination to notify and disclose fairly and fully.

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