You will discover the shocking truth about Amazon’s deal with Future Retail.
With the Competition Commission of India (CCI) investigating if this agreement violates competition law, the situation becomes more pressing. Will Amazon be able to get away with it?
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has called Amazon’s investment in Future Retail a “prima facie violation” of India’s competition law.
The CCI issued an order on December 21st indicating that it found “apparent violations” in the deal between Amazon and Future Retail, which would have given Amazon a nearly 10% stake in the Indian conglomerate. According to the order, Amazon was planning to acquire a certain shareholding and control over certain operations of Future Retail Ltd., which the regulator found to be a “combination” under Section 5 of the Competition Act, 2002.
Section 5 states that parties must report any combination that causes or is likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition (AAEC) in India within 30 days from completion of such combination. The CCI also identified several anti-competitive conduct as prohibited by Section 3 of the Competition Act, 2002. It includes alleged predatory pricing and deep discounting through preferential treatment provided to certain merchants or sellers for promoting their products on Amazon’s platform, among other acts.
Based on its investigation and findings, the CCI has ordered an open inquiry into all those agreements entered into by Amazon India with FRL violating Indian competition law. The market watchdog will investigate further allegations against both companies and decide if they violate India’s competition laws. Furthermore, both companies have been asked to cooperate with the inquiry process as per regulation 6(2) of Competition Commission (general) regulations 2009.
CCI suspends 2019 nod for Amazon deal with Future co
In August of 2020, Amazon.com Inc. entered into a $3.4 billion deal to acquire a 49% stake in Future Retail Ltd, India’s largest publicly-traded retailer. The Competition Commission of India (CCI), the country’s antitrust regulator, is investigating the deal to determine whether it violates competition laws and may harm competitors in the market place.
The CCI has asked Amazon for information on its operations in India, including its corporate governance structure and any existing collaborations or agreements with financial institutions. The commission also requested information about the companies involved in the acquisition and their respective markets for retailing merchandise and/or services sourced through Amazon’s platform and any financial arrangements between them. The CCI also wants to know whether any restrictions or conditions imposed by either party could lead to an “unfair advantage” or another form of anti-competitive behavior within the Indian retail market.
Amazon has stated that they are cooperating fully with the CCI’s investigation and believe that their acquisition of Future Retail Ltd was not intended to harm any specific competitor or competition in India’s retail sector overall. They emphasize that this investment is purely commercial and intended to benefit both companies by leveraging mutual strengths and further expanding Amazon’s capabilities within India’s large e-commerce industry.
The CCI will now review all available evidence related to Amazon’s deal with Future Retail through its analysis framework before issuing a final ruling on the matter, which will decide whether Amazon needs to alter its current business practices to comply with competition law regulations in India.
Impact of the Deal on Indian Consumers
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is reviewing Amazon’s recent agreement with Future Retail, one of India’s largest retailers. The deal involves Amazon investing in a new joint venture with Future Retail. Under this agreement, Amazon will own a 49 per cent stake in the joint venture, which has been set up to support Future Retail’s business operations and provide access to digital payment processing tools. The CCI is concerned that the joint venture may adversely affect competition in the Indian retail space, leading to higher prices and reduced consumer choices.
The CCI is investigating exactly how the deal will impact consumers and competition in India. This includes looking into whether Amazon’s investment in Future Retail could lead to anti-competitive practices such as predatory pricing or thwarting entry by other competitors into the market. Furthermore, it is also examining whether Amazon may be using its digital platform to gain preferential access to certain products or information related to Future Retail’s operations that could also prevent other players from entering the market or competing on an equal basis.
The agreement between Amazon and Future Retail has already been approved by shareholders of both companies, its implementation remains subject to review by the CCI given its potential impact on Indian consumers and competition law. If it finds that the deal violates any of India’s existing legal statutes governing competition, it can order action from either company or even impose penalties against them. Therefore, until the regulator reaches a final decision, uncertainty remains over what this high-profile transaction could mean for Indian retail market in the country going forward.
Potential Violations of Competition Law
It has been alleged that the deal between Amazon and India’s Future Retail Ltd. (FRL) may contravene the Competition Act, 2002. On Tuesday, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) opened a formal investigation into allegations that Amazon had acquired control of FRL through indirect means, in contravention of the law.
Under competition law, mergers and acquisitions are meant to eliminate competition or give one entity a dominant position in the market. Accordingly, such deals must follow conditions under the law before being concluded.
The CCI initiated its investigation after it received complaints that FRL’s agreement with Amazon was anti-competitive and sought to reduce competition in the retail market. There are also allegations that Amazon is engaged in predatory pricing, a type of competition law infringement wherein firms selling below cost prices to drive an ultimate competitor out of business and/or gain market dominance. Other allegations include abuse of dominance and conducting vertical agreements which can distort retail trade markets.
The CCI may take action if it finds any violation of existing regulations regarding anti-competitive agreements or monopolistic practices by either party involved in this deal, namely FRL and Amazon India Private Limited (AIPL). Such action may include issuing directions for corrective measures or demanding certain undertakings from parties engaging in such activity which adversely affects free market principles or restricts free entry/exit into such markets on commercial terms different from those determined by open market forces purely dictated by supply/demand. In addition, the CCI could also levy financial penalties where appropriate on any entity found guilty of restrictive/unfair trade practices/monopolistic behavior which supports these agreement violations and ultimately hampers fair market competition conditions expected both customers & competitors alike being protected under current Indian laws governing such activity federally within the country’s boundaries!
Role of the Competition Commission of India (CCI)
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is a statutory body responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 and all its provisions relating to the regulation of anti-competitive practices such as monopolies, cartels and mergers and acquisitions. CCI administers, recommends and enforces the competition law in India. It examines all anti-competitive practices under Section 3 of The Competition Act. It deals with complaints from consumers, trade parties or any agency about anti-competitive practices in India.
The CCI has taken cognizance of allegations that Amazon’s deal with Future Retail may violate competition norms. As per reports, Amazon had signed a deal worth Rs 1,500 crore to acquire a 49% stake in Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL). FCPL holds a 7.3% stake in Future Retail Ltd (FRL) which owns HyperCity, Big Bazaar and Foodhall stores among others. Further reports suggest that Amazon has a Vested Option Rights Plan which gives it pre-emption rights to buy additional stakes in FRL and FCPL.
The CCI is concerned over these reports as it believes that this might lead to unfair preference given by Amazon to certain sellers/traders over others on its portal as well as allow influencing pricing strategies adopted by these sellers/traders leading to violation of Section 3(4) of The Competition Act 2002 which prohibits any enterprise from entering into agreements resulting in appreciable adverse effect on competition within India’s market. This includes offering better terms only to their favoured groups abusing access or control over essential inputs required for competitive performance on the part of other enterprises having similar operations. The CCI will further investigate if Amazon’s deal with Future Retail may violate various provisions related to abuse of market power or cumulatively result an appreciable anticompetitive effect within the Indian retail sector before arriving at a conclusion regarding its legality.
The CCI’s Investigation into the Deal
On 03/16/2020, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) instigated an investigation into Amazon’s deal with Future Retail. The CCI found that Amazon and its affiliates had possibly acted in contravention of section 3 and section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002.
The CCI is concerned that this acquisition may reduce competition in the market by creating a dominant player who may or may not have the ability to control prices and other market factors. It is also possible that there will be an adverse impact on existing competitors in the market, which would result in a reduction of choice for consumers and potentially higher prices. In addition, it could lead to reduced innovation as well as an increase in barriers to entry.
As part of its investigation, the CCI has issued directions for both Amazon and Future Retail to submit documents so that it can make an informed decision about whether or not there has been any violation of competition laws by either entity due to their proposed transaction.
Potential Outcomes of the Investigation
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is currently investigating the $3.38 billion deal between Amazon and Future Retail to assess whether or not it breaches existing Indian competition laws. If it is determined that the deal contravenes competition laws, there are various potential outcomes the CCI may impose on the companies involved.
Firstly, the CCI may order Amazon and/or Future Retail to divest assets or businesses which formed part of the agreement. This would involve unwinding all aspects of the Amazon-Future Retail deal as well as future joint ventures involving both parties. It would also include severing of any partnership agreements made between Amazon and Future Group in conjunction with this particular transaction.
Secondly, depending on how companies violated competition law, they could be fined up to 10 percent of their respective global earnings for three consecutive previous financial years. Furthermore, if either Amazon or Future Retail were found guilty of certain types of breaches under section 48A od Competition Act 2002, then they may face imprisonment for a period ranging from 6 months to 3 years alongside a fine.
Finally, CCI may also impose an administrative penalty on any enterprise found in breach of competition law which can range from Rs 10 million (£103,483/US$144,186) to Rs 100 crore (£1 billion/ US$1.4 billion). This penalty should be paid within 90 days following issuance by CCI’s director general and allows businesses time to appeal against decision within 60 days or seek modification by CCI itself within 90 days’ time frame before seeking judicial intervention against punishment imposed upon them by CCI .
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found that Amazon’s deal with Future Retail may violate FDI rules and the Competition Act. The CCI determined that the acquisition will have an anti-competitive effect on the markets, which would in turn lead to increased prices and decreased quality of products for consumers.
The CCI noted that it is necessary to impose stringent measures against conglomerates who try to attain a monopoly by infringing upon competition laws, in order to protect competition in the market. Consequently, Amazon’s deal with Future Retail may violate appropriate competition laws if it is found that the company holds a dominant position in the market or has been using anti-competitive strategies such as predatory pricing or preferential arrangements with customers or suppliers.
It will be interesting to see if Amazon will be required to make any changes to its proposed acquisition with Future Retail as per CCI’s recommendations.