The Competition Commission of India (CCI) could look again into its November 28, 2019 order approving the deal between Amazon and Future coupons.
In its 2019 filing, Amazon did not disclose to the CCI that it had restricted the promoters of Big Bazaar and other companies to sell, partner or collaborate within any other retailer in India, when it invested in Future Coupons.
The CCI approval was conditional. Point 16 in the CCI approval order states: "This order shall stand revoked if, at any time, the information provided by the Acquirer is found to be incorrect. This approval should not be construed as immunity in any manner from subsequent proceedings before the Commission for violations of other provisions of the Act."
Amazon has now represented multiple times before the Delhi High Court that it is seeking to uphold its "right of first refusal", and restrict the merger of Big Bazaar and other retail businesses with Reliance Group.
"Amazon, in raising a self-serving contention, has potentially compromised its position in law. It is thereby potentially inviting investigations from various regulators. ED has already started an inquiry. The possibility of Competition Commission of India revising its approval granted in 2019 cannot be ruled out," Vikram Nankani, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court told IANS.
Amazon had said in its 2019 filing that "The investor (Amazon) has decided to invest in FCL with a view to strengthen and augment the business of FCL - Including marketing and distribution of loyalty cards, corporate gift cards and reward cards to corporate customers - and unlock value in the company".
It had also said "the proposed combination will provide an opportunity to FCL to learn global trends in digital payments solutions and launch products... usage of in-built payment mechanisms can lead to acquisition of customer based and increased loyalty".
The CCI evaluated its application and concluded that there is no threat to fair competition if Future Coupons and Amazon Pay work together.
The Enforcement Directorate has started its investigation on Amazon for violation of FDI laws, based on a similar representation by Amazon to the Delhi High Court that its agreement gives it a right to restrict the sale of Big Bazaar and allied retail businesses to any other party.
The possibility of the CCI following the ED's steps in looking into this case is fairly high, sources said.