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Amazon seeks to block sale of future's small-format stores

In addition, the US e-tailer has offered financial help to the cash-strapped retailer

Amazon seeks to block sale of futures small-format stores
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Amazon has written to Big Bazaar parent Future Retail (FRL) in an effort to block the probable sale of the latter's small-format chain of stores that operate under the Easyday and Heritage Fresh brands.

In addition, the US e-tailer has offered financial help to the cash-strapped retailer. The development comes against the backdrop of an ongoing legal battle between the two retail heavyweights on the one hand and FRL's lenders looking to sell the stores to recover Rs 3,500 crore in dues on the other.

The amount is the first tranche of Rs 14,000-15,000 crore that Future Group owes to its lenders as part of the one-time restructuring scheme signed between the retailer and the banks, said three people in know of the matter. The Kishore Biyanipromoted group failed to honour the payment of the first tranche that was due at the end of the last year.

The Jeff Bezos-led e-tailer since then has argued in various courts that its protective rights over FRL and therefore FRL's assets cannot be sold to Reliance without its consent.

While Amazon and FRL did not comment on this story, sources told TOI that FRL's lenders are not bound by any agreements with Amazon and they can invite bids for the stores as these assets are hypothecated to the banks.

In December, however, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) temporarily suspended its approval of Amazon's FCPL deal due to the e-tailer allegedly suppressing facts. Amazon has challenged CCI's decision at the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) and the next date of hearing is on February 2.

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