Bombay HC vacates order restraining Future’s stake sale in Generali insurance JV

Industry:    

The Bombay High Court on Monday vacated a lower court order that had restrained Future Enterprises from selling its stake in Future Generali India Insurance to its joint venture partner Generali Group.

Justice Anuja Prabhudesai, in an oral order, has vacated an ex-parte interim order in a plea filed by IDBI Trusteeship Services on behalf of its bondholders.

The bondholders have subscribed debentures to the tune of Rs 1,070 crore.

Before the High Court’s order, Senior Advocates Ravi Kadam and Vikram Nankani, while appearing for Future Enterprises and its affiliates, argued that the order passed by the sessions court was “too far” from its jurisdiction.

“The transaction in question was announced on January 26, 2022 and the bondholders came to the sessions court a month after that. We don’t know what was the urgency to pass such an ex-parte interim injunction when the transaction is awaiting several regulatory clearances as well,” argued the counsel for Future Enterprises.

Countering this, Senior Advocates Navroz Seervai and Birendra Saraf, appearing for IDBI Trusteeship, argued that all the companies are part of the same Future Group.

Last week, Future group had approached the High Court seeking relief after a local Mumbai court had barred it from selling stake in Future Generali.

Last month, IDBI Trusteeship Services Ltd, on behalf of its bondholders, had approached a lower court in Mumbai seeking an injunction against Future Group. Apart from Future Enterprises, bondholders have also named Kishore Biyani and two group entities Fairvalue Advisors Pvt Ltd and Central Departmental Store Pvt Ltd as parties to the case.

The lower court in Mumbai had restrained Future Group companies from carrying out any transaction with regards to the Future Generali India Insurance and adjourned the matter to March 10 for further hearing. Lawyers for IDBI Trusteeship had argued that the bondholders had sent several letters to the company but failed to receive any response with regards to the transaction and hence they were compelled to file the suit.

In January, Future Group announced that it plans to sell a 25% stake in its general insurance joint venture Future Generali India Insurance Co. Ltd to the Italy-based JV partner Generali Group for Rs 1,252 crore. Future Enterprises has two JVs with the Italian financial group – one in general insurance and one in life insurance.

Senior Advocates Ravi Kadam and Vikram Nankani are appearing for Future Enterprises along with Abhishek Kale and Nisha Kaba of law firm Naik, Naik & Co. Senior Counsels Navroz Seervai and Birendra Saraf, along with law firm Keystone Partners, are appearing for IDBI Trusteeship Services.

ET had earlier reported that Future Enterprises also plans to sell its 33% stake in the life insurance JV with Generali in a bid to pare its debt.

Future Group, which is facing financial woes, had in 2020 agreed to sell its retail assets to Reliance Retail, a unit of Reliance Industries, in a Rs. 25,000-crore deal. Amazon challenged it at various fora, alleging that the deal was in violation of an investment agreement it signed in 2019 with a promoter firm of FRL.

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