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Future Group Jumps as Reliance Plans Retail Stores' Takeover

BENGALURU, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Shares in Future Group companies surged on Monday, following reports that India's top retailer Reliance Industries would take over at least 200 Future Retail stores after the debt-laden group failed to make lease payments for them.

Shares of Future Supply Chain Solutions, Future Retail, Future Lifestyle Fashions, Future Consumer and Future Enterprises rose between 7% and 16%.

Reliance's move follows failed efforts since 2020 to close a $3.4 billion deal to buy the retail assets of Future, whose partner Inc has blocked the transaction citing violation of contracts. Future denies any wrongdoing.

"Any resolution will be beneficial for Future shareholders now whether through the courts or alternate strategies to close the deal," said Samir Bahl, chief executive officer, Anand Rathi Advisors, Mumbai.

"Markets don't necessarily take sides, rather focus on value creation for shareholders and any move that helps the business is going to benefit shareholders and drive up demand for stock."

Though Future has more than 1,700 outlets, all the 200 stores that Reliance will rebrand as its own will be the group's flagship supermarket chain 'Big Bazaar', which was started about two decades ago by Kishore Biyani, helping him earn the moniker of "father of modern retail" in India.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries had transferred leases of some stores to its name and sublet them to Future, but is now taking over. Reliance has offered store staff jobs on existing terms. 

In blocking the Future-Reliance deal, Amazon has long argued that Future violated the terms of a 2019 deal in which the U.S. retail giant invested $200 million in the company. Amazon's position has been backed so far by a Singapore arbitrator and Indian courts.

Separately, Future Enterprises on Saturday said that Reliance Retail had extended the timeline to close the deal to September 30, 2022 from March 31, 2022.

Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Rashmi Aich

Source: Reuters

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