RIL among 16 interested in Future Retail’s IBC assets | Mint

RIL among 16 interested in Future Retail’s IBC assets

Applicants must submit  their resolution plans by  15 December.
Applicants must submit their resolution plans by 15 December.

Summary

  • Future Retail was admitted to the insolvency tribunal in July after a buyout proposal by Reliance collapsed.

MUMBAI : Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries is among 16 suitors who have submitted expressions of interest (EoI) to take over Future Retail Ltd, a person aware of the development said.

While news reports said the Adani Group has also submitted an EoI, Mint could not verify this. Vijaykumar V. Iyer, the resolution professional for Future Retail, invited applications from interested parties through a 4 October notification. Iyer has been in charge since Future Retail was admitted to the insolvency tribunal in July after a buyout proposal by Reliance collapsed.

The deadline to file EoIs was 3 November, and potential resolution applicants must submit resolution plans by 15 December.

Financial creditors or lenders have submitted claims of 21,451 crore from the company, of which 19,225 crore has been verified by the resolution professional as of 27 September.

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“Of the 16 EoIs, one has already been withdrawn, and two might be disqualified," said the person cited above. He said these are just EoIs and do not necessarily mean all qualified suitors would submit resolution plans, as seen in several other insolvency cases.

“Let’s see how many are seriously interested. Bankers will soon discuss these EoIs at a committee of creditors’ meeting," the person said.

On 29 August 2020, Reliance Industries announced a 24,713-crore deal that involved the proposed sale of Future Group’s retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing businesses. The deal collapsed after Reliance lowered the proposed deal value, following which lenders rejected the offer in April. This led to Reliance withdrawing its proposal.

An email sent to a spokesperson for Reliance Industries remained unanswered till press time.

On 14 April, Bank of India referred Future Retail to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). The company eventually got admitted in July.

According to the invitation for EoIs, Future Retail’s fixed assets largely comprise furniture and fixtures and leasehold improvements at various leased retail stores. As of the insolvency commencement date—20 July—Future Retail had access to 302 leased retail stores spread across 23 states and Union territories consisting of 30 large format stores and 272 small format stores.

A tussle over the assets of Future group between two of the world’s richest men—Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries and Jeff Bezos of Amazon—left lenders scrambling to recover their loans to the conglomerate. In August 2019, Amazon bought a 49% stake in Future Coupons, which owns a 7.3% equity in Future Retail through convertible warrants, with the right to buy into the flagship Future Retail after 3 to 10 years. On 17 December 2021, the competition watchdog kept Amazon’s purchase in abeyance and ordered a penalty of 202 crore for allegedly not being upfront about the actual scope and purpose of the deal.

Last month, Amazon wrote to Iyer, flagging probable financial irregularities and undervalued transactions at the bankrupt company. Based on a 17-page letter, Amazon made reference to possible financial irregularities and undervalued transactions at Future Retail, Mint reported.

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