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The story of Priceza: Thailand’s favourite price comparison platform

What is Priceza? Over the years, the attitude of people towards online shopping has changed drastically. Especially in the countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand, there has been many changes in the last decade. Many people have only recently converted to the services that the world wide web provides. Though they were sceptical at first, […]

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What is Priceza?

Over the years, the attitude of people towards online shopping has changed drastically. Especially in the countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand, there has been many changes in the last decade. Many people have only recently converted to the services that the world wide web provides. Though they were sceptical at first, people have learned to trust e-commerce so much that many have stopped going to stores. They do not even bother to go to a mall or a market to buy stuff. With the growth of e-commerce, Thailand also offers various opportunities to new and exciting startup businesses. Priceza is one such startup that has achieved success during this boom. 

Priceza (1) is a search engine and comparison platform from Thailand which is exclusively for shopping. Three computer science engineers named Thanawat Malabuppa, Vachara Nicatatphand, Wirod Supadul founded this startup in January 2010. Thanawat Malabuppa, the CEO of Priceza is also the chairman of the Thai E-commerce Association. The policy of Priceza is to offer credible and authentic data about the products and thus draw in more customers. It is currently one of the leading price comparison platforms in the whole of Southeast Asia. Priceza has also expanded into countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore. 

The birth of Priceza

Priceza

Even after e-commerce business started flourishing in SouthEast Asia, many did not find it credible. This is indicated by the fact that almost 50 percent of the shoppers opt for cash on delivery. They do not trust the sites enough to give their personal information or bank account details. The online shopping business in Thailand takes up just around 3 percent of the entire retail sector. However, statistics also show that the e-commerce business may be able to develop from 3 billion dollars in 2018 to 13 billion dollars by 2025. 

Back in the 2000s, many companies struggled with getting customers for their online business. They were draining cash for additional marketing and sales advancements. Many companies had to give away discount offers coupons, free delivery and low commission expenses. The co-founder of Priceza, Thanawat Malabuppa, realised that the solution to this problem was not a greater number of merchants or items. What the people needed to start trusting online shopping was platforms that could give the best-quality, substantial shopping guides. 

Finally in January 2010, he founded Priceza along with two other friends. It was during a time that the online shopping market in Thailand had reached its peak. They gathered a lot of reliable information about the sellers and focused on personalised suggestions. The clients soon started trusting them and the site received more visitors on a monthly basis. They worked with a vision to make the online commercial business in Southeast Asia as straightforward as possible through their platform. Providing valid data to the customers could also help a healthy competition, thus aiding both the buyers and sellers. 

Growth over the years

Priceza established popularity in its business sectors by building up relations with online companies and retailers in Thailand. They were able to collect data and store records on a wide scope of items using these collaborations. Priceza entered into deals with enterprises like Lazada, Zalora, Central Group, Groupon, Rakuten etc. All these companies have their items in the database of Priceza. As of 2014, the company had 5,000 stores on Priceza Thailand and another 5,000 stores on Priceza Indonesia. These contributed to an aggregate sum of 1.6 million items in Thailand and 2,000,000 items in Indonesia.

Priceza was able to own 85 percent of business in the price comparison sector of Thailand. Every month saw more than 3.3 million guests, looking through 5 million products from 10,000 sellers. The Priceza website in Indonesia could achieve 1.3 visitors every month. In 2017, Priceza had initiated the new benefit called “Priceza Money”  which is available at money.priceza.com. This new strategy presented a platform where people could compare the financial schemes like vehicle insurance, personal loan and credit cards. 

Success of the company 

Since there was a surge in the number of online shopping sites after 2010, people were becoming more confused. This situation attracted more users as they wanted a clear picture of what they were facing. Even though many shopping sites had pages on social media, these were not useful for luring in customers. Most of the time, the clients would simply take a look at such pages with no goal of purchasing on the web. They might be checking the cost of a product while already in a physical store. 

In some rare cases, the online website was an off-shoot of a physical store that may procure a visit. For the initial three months in Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore, Priceza had given many offers to the online dealers. Priceza gave away free postings thus attracting more sellers. When the watchful shippers saw the uptick in their guest traffic, they were happy to sign on for a long term alliance.

Over the years, the company has gathered more authentic information to help more customers to make the right choice. As of now, Priceza has posted details of more than 100 million items through their website. In the coming years, Priceza hopes to grow its foundation on other financial services. They also hope to give more attention to client’s welfare and improve their assistance and administration.

Competition for Priceza

Some of the similar platforms like Priceza are PricePrice owned by Kakaku of Japan, Etao by Alivaba group, PriceArea, PricePanda etc. Priceza works practically like Kakaku or the PriceGrabber in the US. It is similar to sites that help you choose between flight and hotel deals. You just need to enter the name of any product that you are looking for, such as clothes, television, accessories etc. The search engine will get you all the online retailers who are selling that item along with its price. Its user friendly layout allows you to easily figure out what you want in a split second. 

You can also view which item is the least expensive and then navigate to the retailer’s site. A difference between Priceza and hotel-booking sites is that it does not play broker in the real exchange. Priceza allows the direct transaction between the buyer and the seller without becoming a mediator. The online sellers pay a price to Priceza to make them display their products. Priceza receives a commission from all small, medium and large enterprises for the consumer traffic that they receive.


Nidhia Sebastian is an English literature graduate who looks forward to a career that complements her passion. Her never-ending love for language has brought her to creative writing. Having an open heart to knowledge is what leaves her with a thirst to explore the world. She believes in living life to the fullest and hopes to convey the same enthusiasm through her words.

Source: https://timesnext.com/the-story-of-priceza-thailands-favourite-price-comparison-platform/

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The Biggies: Startups vs. Corporates

Ever wondered why startups are a thing today? Don’t worry; the same thought is what created this unique sector. With over a million startup proposals every year. This sector is nothing short of a loss to the economic boom in any country. India is the largest startup initiator globally because there are over a vast […]

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Ever wondered why startups are a thing today? Don’t worry; the same thought is what created this unique sector. With over a million startup proposals every year. This sector is nothing short of a loss to the economic boom in any country. India is the largest startup initiator globally because there are over a vast percentage of youth with unique ideas based on their own experiences of ideas that could shape how one can have a hand at the same problem. The problem-solving capacity is the reason why startups are funded. The startup ideology has been commended because of the game-changing ideas that the youth can provide and with proper funding, they can easily pull together ideas for the masses.

The corporate sector is what one could call ‘A Mature startup.’ If startups were kids, then corporates are the ones that hit puberty. Corporates like Wipro, Infosys was Startup that initiated in the ’80s. The fast growth that they faced is what made them a success today, and the same reason why no one beat them today because the corporate sector is what adapts to daily situations. The corporate sector’s success is because there was minimal scope for such an idea, and the uniqueness in it compared to the images in those days is what pulled it up. Imagine, Café coffee day wouldn’t exist in India if it were launched later after Starbucks in India. In his college days, the owner didn’t get to see places for students to relax and have a break, and with this idea, he started Café coffee Day

The survival of the Fittest

Startups and Corporates today aren’t what it would be. There is a startup that also tackles the problems that Corporates face and it is the same reason why Corporates fear their existence. They try to tackle these startups in several ways, either ethical or unethical. Sometimes, they buy out a startup only to fix their identity in public. Startups were the bravest ventures; you needed to be patient and unique, which is not the case today. In a group of 10 students, at least four of them will be interested in building a startup and among those four, only one will have a steady beginning. Only time can say if it can live long enough to see the light. Startups are being funded for the profits that the ’80s gave the financers. The same confidence is seen today in the same people and then if the ventures fail, they realize the mistake so late that they squeeze out the individual. It is what you’d call a lazy investment.

The strategy behind a working force

Corporates aren’t the same today. They have a working population in lakhs worldwide and ensure a unified work ethic system whenever they pursue a task. Corporate strategy isn’t the case of a progressive system. It takes time for them to adjust to a newer system unless pressurized; that is why the consumers curse upon their system’s slow movement. Corporates aren’t new to deadlines. They rarely take it seriously as they did earlier. The slow-motion is what keeps its people moving.

Startups aren’t of the same case. If someone opened a startup tomorrow to tackle the corporate system he was a victim of, he would have better success because his consumers will build a new faith and believe that the individual’s idea will indeed reduce their efforts. The corporates wouldn’t like the newbie to take on them and fight back. For example, Jio might make a corporate investment but just like a startup for the masses who appreciate the system and cheap facilities that corporates like airtel raised prices upon for their profits. The rise of Jio has pressurized many telco’s, and thus they now try to take on Jio by bringing it to the market interest.

The growth of a startup versus the corporate sector is the biggest’ revenge’ battles today and it will continue for a more extended period. Startups are like a slap to the corporates trying to feed on consumer money and take them for granted whereas startups initially fix these problems. Surveys keep pulling up the facts of Startups facing a revolutionary movement that could shape how the economy will turn around for good or bad in the next 20 years.

My passion is Reading and writing. Basically, an optimistic introvert. Always striving to be better. Writing as a passion leads me to become stronger and focused.

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article have been curated for our audience and does not warrant a 100% accuracy. All the information mentioned in the article is subject to change according to the changing viewpoints. Feel free to reach us at [email protected] for any change or copyright issues.

Note: If you buy something via a link on this page, we might earn a small commission on it.

Source: https://timesnext.com/the-biggies-startups-vs-corporates/

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I Scream, You Scream – Peggy Ice-Cream, Chandigarh

“My dad is a Foodie. A foodie from another generation has passed his love for food to me.” – says Harkamal Singh Grover  If you follow your heart and it leads to your freezer, we’ve got a better idea! Peggy, the local ice-cream parlor in Chandigarh, offering a wide range of gelatos and popsicles, is […]

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“My dad is a Foodie. A foodie from another generation has passed his love for food to me.”

– says Harkamal Singh Grover 

If you follow your heart and it leads to your freezer, we’ve got a better idea! Peggy, the local ice-cream parlor in Chandigarh, offering a wide range of gelatos and popsicles, is the go-to place to beat the dessert craving. 

Peggy Founder - Harkamal Singh Grover
Peggy Founder – Harkamal Singh Grover

With a degree in Marketing from Punjab University (1), Harkamal Singh Grover always wanted to do something in the F&B industry. He wanted to do something different and scalable from the ongoing trends. With already a restaurant and hotel doing well for a couple of years, he felt that you’d find a new restaurant and café in every nook and corner. On a visit to Gulfood in Dubai, a yearly three-day event, where people from across the world come to socialize regarding the ongoing trends, Harkamal decided to follow through with his idea of an ice-cream brand.

Dessert doesn’t go the stomach; it goes to the heart! Starting with the rage of popsicles, a fruit-based candy, which is vegan and sugar-free, Harkamal struggled for around 8 to 10 months as people in Chandigarh were not aware of the product and the concept of a popsicle, and thereby he decided to bring a lot of other products under the umbrella of desserts. 

We all scream for Ice-Cream!

Like all Indians, Harkamal was always fascinated with ice-creams and so he decided to get into the business of Gelatos. Since he wanted to do something scalable, this was a perfect fit.

“We’ve been exposed to very basic ice-creams”,

says Harkamal. On reading more on it, he was curious as to why something as ice-cream, which is hardened, measured in Litres. What was thrilling to learn was that a 4-liter ice-cream weighs about 2 kg, unlike milk where 1 liter is equal to 1 kg. 

“They blow air into the ice-creams. The machinery that they have allows them to blow about 50% air. Hence, the ice-creams that we have are so cheap.”

– Harkamal

Hence, he decided not to do the basic ice-cream and not cheat the people.

“I practice what I preach”,

says Harkamal, and he wanted to give a product which he would personally want as a customer. Their whole range of ice-cream is air free and available in sugar-free options. There is a large vegan variety of products as well.

Why Peggy?

Peggy

The best time for ice-cream is always! Harkamal consulted the Industry experts from Dubai and mentioned that

“they don’t call themselves chefs or businessmen or entrepreneurs. They call themselves as artists”.

On meeting a gelato artist from Italy, who guided him with detailed sessions and persuaded him to open this venture, Harkamal decided to name his brand after her name, Peggy! “She took me through products and processes to make gelato. She still helps me in finding suppliers from Italy.” The proud founder mentioned that every material, from the bases, flavors, and fruits are frozen and imported directly from Italy.

No success comes easy and although Harkamal feels that he is far from the success that he wishes to achieve, a big moment for Peggy Ice-cream was when a year ago, he received a call at 12 noon (the outlet opens at 12:30 p.m.) to open the store, as the Bollywood actor Jahnvi Kapoor had reached to have some Peggy Ice-cream. She waited for this place to open, despite there being an international ice-cream brand right opposite Peggy Ice-cream, which was open at that time. The next day, she visited again with Kartik Aryan. 

Harkamal wants to market the product through word of mouth and credits the ice-cream brand right opposite the outlet. He is convinced that the challenges you face make you stronger and another ice-cream brand around required him to do something better than normal. He aims to provide a better product at a reasonable price and now believes that he has beaten the product.

The Spread of Happiness

peggy

A cone of ice-cream in the hand of a kid is the pure definition of happiness and the proud founder wishes to spread this happiness to other places and move into a franchise model. He aims to expand Peggy Ice-cream by opening other outlets in the Tri-city as well as other cities in the country. 

“As a local brand, we try to change according to the need of the market, which international brands don’t, as they are rigid and so they fail.”

– Harkamal Singh Grover

Peggy Ice-cream is a flexible brand that caters to the choices of the customers and hence they have 30% of products on their menu introduced on-demand, including Paan and Coconut flavored ice-creams. Every flavor takes around 3 months of Research and Development. Therefore, one can find a new flavor at the outlet every 3 months. For the future, Harkamal wants to ensure that this brand provides a wholesome experience to its customers by offering all kinds of desserts under one roof, including ice-creams, waffles, shakes, gelatos, popsicles, and yogurts.

Go Corona!

Due to the pandemic, certain projects went on hold, but coming a new year brings new things to the menu. This January, Peggy Ice-cream intends to introduce a ‘tea and coffee’ section which goes well with their range of ice-creams and other desserts. Authentic bubble teas, specially imported from Taiwan would also be available, exclusively at Peggy Ice-cream in Chandigarh Tri-city.

Harkamal also was thrilled to mention that a healthy line of self-served yogurts would be introduced soon. Doing a healthier dessert is their aim, a dessert that does not compromise on the taste. All the sugar-free products are 100% tested and Peggy Ice-cream is privileged to have a large clientele of diabetic people.

Although they are delivering in certain areas, delivery constitutes only 10% of its sale. Harkamal wishes are every customer comes in, taste, and then choose the flavor to order. All the products are risk-free, with zero human touches.

I am a Lawyer with a passion for blogging. As an avid reader and a devout feminist, I love to create content to inspire and motivate people and thereby I’m hoping to break the gender defined roles in this world.

Source: https://timesnext.com/i-scream-you-scream-peggy-ice-cream-chandigarh/

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Battle of Business Rivalry: Amazon Vs. Reliance

The high-profile and exclusive partnership between Amazon (1) and Future Group (2) is on the rocks after Amazon sought legal proceedings against the retail firm earlier this month.  The organizations collaborated in October 2014 to sell the brands portfolio of Future Group exclusively on the Amazon marketplace in India. In January 2020, Amazon, the e-commerce […]

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The high-profile and exclusive partnership between Amazon (1) and Future Group (2) is on the rocks after Amazon sought legal proceedings against the retail firm earlier this month. 

The organizations collaborated in October 2014 to sell the brands portfolio of Future Group exclusively on the Amazon marketplace in India. In January 2020, Amazon, the e-commerce major, also partnered with India’s leading retailer, Future Retail Ltd, or FRL, to expand its reach by leveraging each other’s networks. 

The partnership enabled Kishore Biyani-led Future Group to access the online platform; while allowing the US-based firm to increase its presence in the Indian market. 

It is worth noting that the announcement came when Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India, geared up to take on both ecommerce giants Amazon and Walmart with the soft launch of JioMart, his new ecommerce venture. 

As per the agreement, Amazon India is the official online sales channel for FRL stores. It would ensure that relevant FRL stores participate in the Amazon India marketplace and its programs. 

In 2019, Amazon had acquired a 49% stake in Future Coupons that holds approximately 7.3% in Future Retail via convertible warrants, which holds Big Bazaar retail chain. With the agreement, FRL would list its items on Amazon Prime to reach out to customers within hours in all major cities across India. 

Moreover, in a separate agreement, Future Consumer Ltd, or FCL for short, will get its portfolio of brands online via Amazon Retail India Pvt. Ltd. It would enable Future Consumer to build an online channel and offer its brands to millions of Amazon’s customers. 

What Made Kishore Biyani to Sell his Business to Reliance Industries?

Kishore Biyani, the founder of Future Group, claimed that the retail major lost about 7000 crore INR revenue in the first three to four months of the coronavirus pandemic due to the resultant lockdown. It has led him to sell his business to Reliance Industries. 

In August 2020, Reliance Industries, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani announced that it is acquiring retail and wholesale business and the logistics and warehousing business from the Future Group for 24,713 crore INR. 

“We got into a trap, to be very honest with COVID-19. In the first 3-4 months, we lost nearly ₹7,000 crores of revenue. I thought there was no other answer but to exit. If you look at long-term planning – 5 to 10 years — it will not be easy for physical stores”

– Kishore Biyani.

With the deal made in August, Reliance Industries would acquire Future Retail that owns the Big Bazaar that sells everything from groceries, apparel to cosmetics, and Future Lifestyle Fashions Ltd that operates Brand Factory, a fashion discount chain.

Notably, Reliance would only take over Future Consumer that sells food, home, and personal care products. The financial and insurance business of Future Group is not part of the deal. 

According to the agreement, Reliance would acquire fashion and grocery retail of Future Group, such as Big Bazaar, FoodHall, FBB, Nilgiris, Central, Brand Factory, Heritage Foods, etc. In all, RIL would take over more than 1,700 stores across formats. 

The investment from Reliance would help Biyani to scalp his debt.  

Personal Debt of Biyani

Notably, the founder of Future Group, Kishore Biyani, has a debt of around 2,000 crore INR in his capacity. Previous reports suggest that his loan is also a hurdle to complete the transaction with Reliance Industries Ltd. 

With the 24,713 crore INR deal, Reliance Industries is looking to bolster its position in India’s retail sector. 

Notably, Future Group’s listed companies’ combined debt increased from 10,952 crore INR as of March 31, 2019, to 12,778 crore INR on September 30, 2019. The 46% stake of Kishore Biyani in Future Lifestyle is entirely pledged along with Future Retail. Three-fourths of his 42% stake in the group is pledged. 

Earlier in July, Fitch, a rating agency, downgraded Future Retail’s default rating to C after abstaining a semi-annual interest payment on bonds. Their two units have also missed their payments to Frankin Templeton funds. 

Notably, Future Group has about 12,000 crore INR debt, and it has suffered losses of about 7,000 crore INR during the lockdown months. Kishore Biyani conceded that it is better to expand with equity as opposed to debt. 

Immense Pressure of Future Group

The lenders led by the State Bank of India were putting immense pressure on the Future Group to manage its debt. Analysts see the deal as a significant move by the group to cut down its loans. 

Future Group’s retail business came under more stress because of the nationwide lockdown in March to curb the spread of novel coronavirus. Notably, many of its premium food sale arms such as Brand Factory and Foodhall had come to a near halt during the period that lasted more than two months. 

Reliance Wasn’t the First Choice of Biyani

It is noteworthy that before selling its assets to Reliance in August, Biyani had been wooing several business entities to sell shares of several Future Group companies in an attempt to down its debts. However, it had not seen much success. 

Several big players like Amazon, the US-retail giant, showed interest in the Future Group. However, Kishore Biyani resolved that Reliance Industries Limited has offered a comprehensive solution for their debt issue. 

Notably, Future Retail holds several brands, including:

  • Big Bazaar
  • Easyday
  • Central
  • Brand Factory
  • Fashion at Big Bazaar, or FBB
  • Nilgiris
  • Ezone

Reliance is buying Big Bazaar and the entire Future Group in the deal with Future Group. 

It means that Reliance Industries would have control over Future retail baskets such as FBB, Big Bazaar, Central, Future Lifestyle Ltd, and Future Supply Chain Solutions. It would merge these entities into one. After completing the deal, Kishore Biyani would be left in control of the FMCG business and some other smaller companies of the Future Group.  

Nonetheless, this deal and acquisition is a big deal for Reliance Industries. 

Amazon Ready to Play Matchmaker to Future Group

Sources tell that Amazon is ready to help Kishore Biyani with his debts by bringing in strong investors if Future does not go ahead with the RRVL deal. The US-based e-commerce giant makes all possible moves fearing the increased competition from Future Group and Reliance deal. 

Amazon holds a 49% stake in Future Coupons in the holding company of Future Group-owned by Kishore Biyani. The firm is ready to help the latter deal with its ballooning debt crisis by bringing in new strategic partners and investors. However, only if the latter calls off its 24,713 crore INR deal with Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, RRVL. 

Reports suggest that Amazon is willing to help Future Group despite dragging the latter to the court for alleged breach of a non-compete pact in Future Coupons agreement for making deals with Reliance. The wish of US-based e-commerce giant to help Future Group is borne out of fears that the contract between Reliance and the latter would increase Amazon’s competition in India.

The US-based online retailer approached the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, stating that despite owning a stake in Future Coupons, it did not get the Right of First Refusal (RoFR) in the deal between Future Group and Reliance Retail Ventures Limited. 

Legal Battle Between Jeff Bezos and Mukesh Ambani

The arbitration proceedings between Amazon and Kishore Biyani is completed as Singapore’s Former Attorney G. K. Rajah concluded the hearing on Friday, October 16. 

Notably, Rajah is the sole arbitrator in Amazon vs. Future vs. Reliance case. On Friday, an emergency hearing of the arbitration took place in Singapore, where Harish Salve appeared for Future Retail, acquired by Reliance Industries Limited. 

While Davinder Singh, Singapore based lawyer, appeared on behalf of FCPL, Future Coupons Pvt Ltd. It is the holding company of Kishore Biyani. The former Solicitor General of India, Gopal Subramanium, appeared for Amazon. 

Sources say that the hearing has lasted for 5 hours. And the arbitrator, V. K. Rajah, stated that he would deliver his judgment on or before Monday, October 26, 2020. 

Analysts see it as a war between Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man with a net worth of 204.6 billion USD, and the richest man of India, Mukesh Ambani, with a net value of 88.4 billion USD for control over the retail sector of India.

They added that the deal between Future Group and Reliance Industries is a hindrance for Amazon to tap the offline retail market in India and opened up enormous opportunities for its rival Reliance. India has 1.2 trillion USD worth of retail market, and only 7% of it is online. Ecommerce players of the country including, Amazon, JioMart, and Flipkart, are competing for it while also eying the remaining 93%. 

Amazon’s agreement with the Future Group

According to Analysts, Amazon cannot acquire assets directly because of the FDI, foreign direct investment regulations. They added that Amazon is doing smaller deals with players like Shoppers Stop and Future Group and working as partners. On the other hand, Reliance would increase its grocery market share to almost 40% via the Future Group deal. 

“Amazon is trying to get more offline assets so that when there are changes in FDI, they are in a better position to acquire these assets”

– Satish Meena.

Last year in August, Amazon had bought a 49% stake in the Future Coupons for 1,430 Crore INR, which owns 7.3% in Future Retail. It had a few conditions such as “a non-complete” clause and “right of first refusal” (RoFR) clause.

It means that Future Group cannot sell its shares without approval from Amazon. Moreover, the RoFR also gave Amazon the right to be the first to invest in Future Retail if the Future Group decided to sell its shares. There is another clause that mentions that Future Group cannot sell its assets with Amazon’s approval. 

As per the sources, Future Group could not deal with individual-specific competing bodies without speaking to Amazon because of the non-competing clause. Moreover, the US e-commerce giant also has a call option to acquire all or part of the promoter’s shareholding between the third and tenth years as part of the agreement. 

Amazon Winning the Interim Battle

Earlier on Monday, October 26, 2020, the arbitral tribunal at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre directed Future Group of Kishore Biyani to put its transaction with Reliance Retail Limited, led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani on hold for now.

It passed the interim direction after Amazon Inc initiated legal proceedings against Future Group earlier this month. 

“We welcome the award of the Emergency Arbitrator. We are grateful for the order which grants all the reliefs that were sought. We remain committed to an expeditious conclusion of the arbitration process”

– Amazon Spokesperson.

Amazon believes that Future Group violated the agreement by making a deal with its rival Reliance.

Notably, the deal would have helped Reliance to double its footprint in India as the largest retailer.

Response of Reliance

While commenting about the matter, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd stated that it had entered the transaction to acquire the assets and business of Future Retail Ltd under proper legal advice. It added that the rights and obligations are fully enforceable under the laws of India. 

Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd is set to enforce its rights and complete the transactions as per the scheme terms and agreement with Future Group without any delay. Notably, the deal’s progress is likely to hinge because of the complex legal issue of whether an interim international arbitral order is enforceable in India or not. 

The Rise of Reliance Retail

Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd, led by Mukesh Ambani, the richest man of India, has been on a finance spree since September. It has secured over 37,710 crore INR by selling stakes in its retail arm. 

Notably, RRVL operates India’s largest, most profitable, and fastest-growing retail business. It has fording supermarkets, cash and carry wholesale business, consumer electronics chain stores, online grocery store JioMart, and fast-fashion outlets. 

It operates more than 12,000 stores in over 7,000 towns across India, with 640 million footfalls across core consumer electronics, grocery, and apparel categories. Moreover, the revenue of Reliance Retail in the fiscal year 2020 stood at 1.63 lakh crore INR.

The latest investments secured by Reliance Retail enabled the firm to compete in both online and offline formats. The funds come as the country’s retail sector is preparing for the upcoming festival season and would help Reliance compete with its rivals, Amazon and Flipkart, owned by Walmart. 

Advantages for Reliance with the Future Group Deal 

Reliance would broaden its extensive reach across India with the acquisition of Future Group’s Big Bazaar grocery chain and 2000 retail stores. 

It would offer even more force to India’s conglomerate and make its retail arm more attractive to potential investors. 

“With this deal, Reliance’s dominance in the Indian market increases further, and the valuation that Reliance Retail will now command will be even more”

Arvind Singhal.

Notably, Reliance has secured more than 20 million USD from global investors such as Facebook Inc by selling stakes in its digital business, Jio Platforms. Reliance is now also aiming to attract more investors in Reliance Retail over the next few quarters.

The acquisition would also help Reliance to extend its lead over its competitors. 

Moreover, JioMart, the new e-commerce venture of Reliance that offers free express delivery from neighborhood stores, would also gain the Future Group deal’s upper hand because of its broader wholesale supplier base.  

JioMart offers groceries, electronics, and apparel in more than 200 cities across India. It is a direct challenge for established online retailers such as Flipkart, owned by Walmart, and Amazon’s Indian unit. 

“Reliance has essentially removed one competitor from the market and added Future’s loyal customer base to its portfolio”

– Harminder Sahni. 

Notably, the Reliance-Future is a severe challenge for Flipkart and Amazon, and the likes of DMart. 

Future Group to Challange the Singapore-based Arbitration Forum 

The Future Group, while commenting on its part, stated that it had not sold any stake in the company. It added that the deal is merely about selling its assets. Hence, they have not violated any terms of the contract.  

The statement hinted that the firm is likely to challenge the order by the Singapore-based arbitration forum for the 24,713 crore INR deal with the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries.

“FRL is examining the communication and the order. It may be noted that FRL is not a party to the agreement under which Amazon has invoked arbitration proceedings”

– Future Group.

The statement of the Future Group came in response to the interim order passed by the emergency arbitrator in the proceedings invoked by Amazon Inc., under shareholder’s deal with the Future Group’s promoters. 

It hinted that the entity might challenge the arbitration order from the Singapore-based arbitration center to ensure that the deal between Reliance and the Future Group can proceed without any further delay. 

The Future Group further added that FRL has legal advice that the FRL and its board members’ actions are in full compliance with the relevant agreements. Moreover, the arbitration proceedings under a deal to which FRL is not a party cannot hold back all stakeholders’ interests. 

As per the FRL’s advice, all relevant agreements are administered by Indian Law and provisions of the Indian Arbitration Act. Moreover, the matter also raises numerous fundamental jurisdictional issues, which is the root of the value. Hence, the provisions of the Indian Arbitration Act in an appropriate forum would now test the order. 

What’s Next?

Both Amazon Inc. and Future Group of Kishore Biyani are willing to opt for the arbitration to decide in an international center.   

Gopal Subramanium, Amit Sibal, Gourab Banerji, and Alvin Yeo represented the Amazon team. At the same time, Advocate Harish Salve represented the Future Retail.

According to the sources, a three-member arbitration panel, with Future and Amazon, each appointing one representative and a third member as a neutral umpire, would decide on the trio dispute in 90 days. 

Conclusion: Can Amazon Challenge Future-Reliance Deal?

Future Group has engaged Harish N Salve, a senior advocate for its legal dispute with Amazon Inc. The company can argue that Future Coupons are not part of the deal with Reliance Retail. Furthermore, they can add that it only involves its listed firm such as Future Lifestyle and Retail.  

Amazon has sent the notice to Future Group with the allegation that the firm has not sought the US-based e-commerce giant’s approval before selling its retail assets to Reliance Industries. 

Several industry sources stated that Amazon could not challenge the deal in the legal battle over the dispute. 

Legal experts also added that the contractual rights of Amazon to purchase shares of Future Retail would come into force only after 2022. Hence, in any case, they cannot challenge them directly now. 

There are contingent on rules changing by BJP-led government that bars FDI, foreign direct investment in retail. According to the contract, Amazon has the right to purchase a promoter stake in Future Retail only after 2022. 

If the overseas investment rules are not amended, the e-commerce giant cannot acquire Future Retail shares. It is because that the foreign ownership rules would bar the ecommerce player from holding shares of selling entities on its platform. 

Moreover, the Reliance deal only involves the listed entities of Future Group; hence the challenge is unlikely to affect it. At best, the US-based ecommerce giant could seek damages for the contract breach.

However, as the two firms opt to go for arbitration, it remains unclear whether the deal between Future Group and Reliance Retail Ltd would go through between the legal dispute. 

Rucha Joshi is fueled by her passion for creative writing. She is eager to turn information into action. With her hunger for knowledge, she considers herself a forever student. She’s currently working as a content writer and is always interested in a challenge.

Source: https://timesnext.com/battle-of-business-rivalry-amazon-vs-reliance/

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