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Amazon asks SEBI, stock exchanges not to grant no-objection to Future Retail deal

It is a matter of record that no appeal under Section 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 has been filed against the interim award.

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

New Delhi, Jan 12: Amazon has written to SEBI Chairman Ajay Tyagi informing that the regulator should not give no-objection to the Future Retail transaction with Reliance as the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has constituted an arbitral tribunal.

In a letter to Tyagi, Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings said, “We write to inform you that the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has constituted the arbitral tribunal in the arbitration proceedings initiated by Amazon against inter alia FRL, Kishore Biyani and Rakesh Biyani.

“We wish to highlight that in view of the constitution of the arbitral tribunal, the interim award passed by the EA stands automatically extended for the duration of the arbitration proceedings unless it is reconsidered/modified/vacated by the arbitral tribunal.”

“We wish to highlight Rule 10, Schedule I to the rules of the SIAC, 2016 (SIAC Rules) in this regard, which provides that: ‘The Emergency Arbitrator shall have no power to act after the Tribunal is constituted. The Tribunal may reconsider, modify or vacate any interim order or Award issued by the Emergency Arbitrator, including a ruling on his own jurisdiction. The Tribunal is not bound by the reasons given by the Emergency Arbitrator. Any interim order or Award issued by the Emergency Arbitrator shall, in any event, cease to be binding if the Tribunal is not constituted within 90 days of such order or Award or when the Tribunal makes a final Award or if the claim is withdrawn’,” Amazon said.

Future Retail stands injuncted from proceedings with the transaction with Reliance and restrained by the award.

“We reiterate that FRL continues to be expressly injuncted and restrained by the interim award from taking any steps in furtherance of or in aid of the impugned transaction, including filing or pursuing any application before any person, including SEBI or agencies in India. As the interim award is deemed to be an order of the court and now stands automatically extended pursuant to the SIAC Rules, FRL continues to suffer from a fatal disability to pursue its application for issuance of observation letter/no-objection letter before any regulatory authority,” Amazon said.

The impugned transaction as per the letter is the purported resolution dated August 29, 2020 (Impugned Board Resolution) passed by the board of directors of FRL approving the amalgamation of FRL, along with other group companies, with Future Enterprises Limited (FEL) and the subsequent transfer and vesting of the ‘retail and wholesale undertaking’ from FEL as a going concern on a slump sale basis to the Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani (Reliance Industries) Group.

In view of Section 17(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, the interim award passed by the EA is deemed to be an order of a court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and continues to be in force, it said.

“We extract Section 17(2) for your convenience: ‘(2) Subject to any orders passed in an appeal under section 37, any order issued by the arbitral tribunal under this section shall be deemed to be an order of the court for all purposes and shall be enforceable under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), in the same manner as if it were an order of the Court’,” it added.

It is a matter of record that no appeal under Section 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 has been filed against the interim award.

“In view of the directions in the operative part of the interim award and the above, we request your good offices to take action by inter alia: (a) suspending review of the impugned transaction as well as the scheme involving the impugned transaction, and not granting any no-objection in relation to the same; and (b) directing the Indian stock exchanges not to issue any no-objection/approval letter to FRL,” Amazon said.

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Fuel dearer again: Petrol prices up by 22-25 p/l, diesel by 24-26

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 Petrol and diesel prices rose sharply again on Saturday reaching new all-time highs as oil marketing companies (OMCs) decided to break the pause in revision of auto fuel prices to bridge the widening under recovery.

Accordingly, the pump price of petrol increased between 22-25 paisa per litre across all major metros on the day while diesel prices increased in the range of 24-26 paisa per litre.

With this, petrol is now priced at Rs 85.70/litre in Delhi as against Rs 85.45 a litre previously. Similarly, in Mumbai petrol prices increased to Rs 92.28 a litre, a 24 paisa increase from Friday’s price of Rs 92.04 a litre. In Chennai and Kolkata, petrol is now priced at Rs 88.29 and 87.11 a litre respectively, an increase of 22 and 24 paisa per litre from the previous day’s.

Diesel on the other hand faced sharper increase, rising by 26 paisa a litre in Mumbai from Friday’s level of Rs 82.40 a litre to Saturday’s retail price of Rs 82.66 a litre. In Delhi, diesel rose 25 paisa per litre to Rs 75.88 a litre; in Chennai by 24 paisa per litre to Rs 81.14 a litre and in Kolkata by 25 paisa per litre to Rs 79.48 a litre.

The increase in retail price of auto fuel came on a day when global crude prices showed some signs of softening declining by less than 1 per cent to close to $55 a barrel. Crude price have remained firm for last couple of weeks in the wake of unilateral production cuts announced by Saudi Arabia and a pick up in consumption in all major economies globally.

The increase petrol and diesel prices is fourth such revision this week. The auto fuels had risen sharply by 25 paisa per litre each on Monday and Tuesday before OMCs decided to give relief to consumers from frequent price rise for last two days.

With Saturday’s revision, the pump price of petrol and diesel has now increased by Rs 1.99 and Rs 2.01 per litre, respectively in January so far with OMCs deciding to break an earlier longer period of pause increasing the retail prices first time this year on January 6. The price had been raised on six different days since then.

The last few increases in pump prices in petrol and diesel has taken its price to record levels across the country in all major metro cities and other towns. The last time the retail price of auto fuels were closer to current levels was on October 4, 2018 when crude prices had shot up to $80 a barrel.

The current price rise is largely on account of steep increase in central taxes of petrol and diesel and firm crude prices.

Petrol price was very close to breaching the all-time high level of Rs 84 a litre (reached on October 4, 2018) when it touched Rs 83.71 a litre on December 7, 2020. But the march had been halted ever since then with no price revision by the OMCs in the month. The price rise started again only on January 6.

Oil companies executives said that petrol and diesel prices may increase further in coming days as retail prices may have to be balanced in line with global developments to prevent OMCs from making loss on sale of auto fuels.

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IndiGo to start Agra-Bengaluru flight from March

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As part of its strategy to bolster its regional connectivity, IndiGo has announced Agra as its 64th domestic destination. The airline will connect Agra to Bengaluru and Bhopal through direct flights under the RCS scheme from March 28.

A weekly flight to Goa is also likely to start early February, sources said.The bookings are open with one-way fares starting at Rs 2,523 for Bhopal and Rs 3,789 for Bengaluru.

Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to have the Golden Triangle cities mapped on the 6E network, with the addition of Agra as our 64th domestic destination.

This will not only enhance connectivity for domestic travellers, but also aid in expanding international air traffic once restrictions are lifted and travel opens up.

Additionally, these connections will help promote tourism, trade and commerce, with Agra being home to multiple UNESCO world heritage sites, one of the hubs for leather goods production and known for its food and delicacies.”

The Agra tourism industry is upbeat as it expects a big inflow of tourists, both domestic and foreign, in the coming days. The industry had long been demanding air connectivity from Agra to major destinations in India. A lone flight to Jaipur was also halted some months ago.

The last 10 months saw a major setback to tourism, with the footfall of foreign tourists falling to just one per cent. The Taj Mahal and other monuments remained closed due to Covid-19 for over six months.

With restrictions now removed, the flow of visitors has increased and the hospitality industry is hoping to make good in the coming months. The daily evening cultural show at the Kalakriti Auditorium – Mohabbat the Taj – has resumed, as weekend crowds have begun thronging Agra again.

The inter-state buses have also begun operations, particularly to Delhi, from Monday, bringing relief to thousands of commuters heading for Palwal, Faridabad, Gurugram and other neighbouring areas.

Welcoming the announcement by IndiGo to start daily flights from Agra to Bangalore, Bhopal and Lucknow, Sunil Gupta, chairman IATO, northern region said “Tourists were hesitant to visit Agra as there are no flights which are usually considered very safe during the pandemic. We are hoping the number of visitors will now increase. We have demanded international flights also from Agra.”

Vice president of the Tourism Guild, Rajiv Saxena said “the flights will be very helpful and boost tourism in Agra. For the tourists, it will be such a big help as travel time would be reduced.”

Before the pandemic, Agra was annually visited by more than seven million tourists. “With three World Heritage monuments, and a number of other tourist attractions, plus Mathura and Vrindavan close by, Agra badly needed air connectivity.

But due to pressure from the Delhi lobby of hoteliers and travel agents, all kinds of hurdles were being created, but now the Modi government has taken a huge initiative which should see a turnaround in the fortunes of the hospitality industry in Agra,” said founder president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association, Surendra Sharma.

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Equity indices fall, Sensex down 100 points

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The key Indian equity indices traded on a negative note on Friday with the BSE Sensex falling over 100 points.

Around 10.10 p.m., Sensex was trading at 49,518.63, lower by 106.13 points or 0.21 per cent from its previous close of 49,624.76.

It opened at 49,594.95 and has so far touched an intra-day high of 49,663.74 and a low of 49,361.22 points.

The Nifty50 on the National Stock Exchange was trading at 14,574.60, lower by 15.75 points or 0.11 per cent from its previous close.

Manish Hathiramani, technical analyst with Deen Dayal Investments said: “The Nifty has become slightly nervous after facing resistance at 14,750. While the trend still remains positive, we need to approach the index strategically.”

“On the upside we can go up to 14,800-14,900. On the downside, we have a good support at 14,300. Hence traders can initiate long positions with a target of 14,800 and a stop below 14,300,” he said.

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