Mumbai Court temporarily stops Future Enterprises from selling stake in Insurance JV

The city civil court in Mumbai has temporarily restrained Future Enterprises Ltd from selling its stake in Future Generali India Insurance Company Ltd to its joint venture partner Generali Group until further orders.

The court was hearing a plea filed by IDBI Trusteeship Services Ltd, on behalf of its bondholders, for an injunction against Future Group. Apart from Future Enterprises, bondholders have also named Kishore Biyani and two group entities Fairvalue Advisors Pvt Ltd and Central Departmental Store Pvt Ltd.

In January, Future Group announced that it plans to sell a 25% stake in its general insurance joint venture Future Generali India Insurance Co. Ltd to the Italy-based JV partner Generali Group for Rs 1,252 crore. Future Enterprises has two JVs with the Italian financial group – one in general insurance and one in life insurance.

Now bondholders have challenged this deal in the local court in Mumbai.

“I find substance in the argument of the advocate of the petitioner (IDBI Trusteeship) that if no protection is granted it would be defeated by the delay,” said Justice Kishore M Jaiswal in his order of February 28.

The court has now restrained Future Group companies from carrying out any transaction with regards to the Future Generali India Insurance and has adjourned the matter to March 10 for further hearing.

Advocate Zubin Dalal, along with law firm Keystone Partners, appeared for IDBI Trusteeship and argued that the bondholders had sent several letters to the company but failed to receive any response with regards to the transaction and hence they were compelled to file the suit.

Future Group was not immediately available for comment.

ET had earlier reported that Future Enterprises also plans to sell its 33% stake in the life insurance JV with Generali in a bid to pare its debt.

Meanwhile, debt-laden Future Group is facing trouble on multiple fronts with Reliance Industries seizing control of over 300-odd large-format stores of the Future Group and shuttering them in the last few days for alleged non-payment of rents to the Mumbai conglomerate.

Future Group, which is facing financial woes, had in 2020 agreed to sell its retail assets to Reliance Retail, a unit of Reliance Industries, in a Rs. 25,000-crore deal. Amazon challenged it at various fora, alleging that the deal was in violation of an investment agreement it signed in 2019 with a promoter firm of FRL.

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