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CCI

CCI approves Amazon’s 49% stake acquisition in Kishore Biyani’s Future Coupons

CCI

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has finally given approval to Amazon subsidiary NV Investment Holdings’ proposal to acquire about 49% stake in Future Coupons.

“The proposed combination pertains to the acquisition by the acquirer of approximately 49% of the voting and non-voting equity shares of the Target under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002,” said CCI in a statement.

The Proposed Combination consists of certain other constituent steps involving Future Coupons Ltd (FCL), Future Corporate Resources Private Limited (FCRPL), and Future Retail Limited (FRL).

The CCI will soon make public a detailed order in this regard.

In early November, the antitrust body had raised questions on combined market share and the procedure adopted by Amazon. The competition watchdog had asked Amazon over 40 questions related to the deal, adverse impact on the competition and its businesses.

In August, the Jeff Bezos-led firm had agreed to make an equity investment in Future Coupons Limited for acquiring a 49% stake comprising both voting and non-voting shares.

To avoid any legal hassles, Amazon had sought pre-emptive approval from the antitrust watchdog CCI to go through with the deal even though it wasn’t necessary to do so.

Last December, the Indian government in its FDI policy draft imposed some restrictions on online marketplaces. It barred e-comm marketplace from holding an equity stake more than 25% in a vendor/seller. It is also imposed restrictions in controlling the vendor’s inventory.

Since Future Retail sells several of its branded products on Amazon’s online marketplace, Amazon’s shareholding in FCL will be structured to ensure that the former takes up less than 25% equity shares with voting rights.

Besides, public listed Future Retail is not allowed directly to sell the stake to Amazon. Therefore, it is routing it through its holding group’s FCL, which holds around 39.6 million share warrants. When converted, the share warrants will amount to approximately 7.5% stake in Future Retail.

At present, Future Retail has about 1,557 stores in 437 cities.

The deal will allow Amazon to leverage Future Group’s strong offline presence in the country. With stakes in three popular brick&mortar chains and food retail licence, Amazon will aim to make a dent in modern retail (aka O2O).

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