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'NSE warned Future Retail of action over disclosures on Amazon dispute'

NEW DELHI: India's National Stock Exchange (NSE) privately warned Future Retail it risked regulatory action for not making timely market disclosures about efforts by Amazon.com to block a disputed asset sale, according to e-mails reviewed by Reuters.

Future Retail - one of country's top retailers - has been locked in a bitter dispute with Amazon over its $3.4 billion retail assets deal with Reliance Industries. Amazon is a business partner of Future and argues the Indian firm's asset sale breached some of their pre-existing agreements.

Amazon had complained to stock exchanges, accusing Future of misleading public by making incorrect market disclosures, allegations the Indian group denies.

The complaint came after Amazon on Oct. 25 won an injunction from an arbitrator to halt the Future-Reliance deal.

Previously unreported e-mails exchanged between the NSE and Future show the stock exchange repeatedly requested the company submit more details of the arbitration order, seeking details of possible impact on financials, lenders and the Reliance deal.

On October 27, NSE asked Future why it had not disclosed the commencement of the arbitration proceedings and not shared the impact of the order. Future in response said it believed a disclosure wasn't required. NSE's listing compliance division rejected that argument. It demanded a series of disclosures be made within hours, "failing which appropriate actions may be initiated", the emails showed.

Future Retail's Company Secretary, Virendra Samani, answered most of NSE's queries in a late night e-mail on Oct. 30, saying it was doing so "in the best interest of all stakeholders", the communications showed. Many of those responses were made public on directions of the NSE two days later in a six-page exchange filing by Future.

Before that, Future had only submitted a disclosure on Oct. 26 in which it attached a media release saying it would ensure its deal with Reliance proceeded unhindered and that it was reviewing the arbitration order.

The NSE and Future Retail did not respond to requests for comment. The legal dispute has now reached the Delhi High Court, where Future Retail has urged the court to stop Amazon from writing letters to regulators to block its Reliance deal, which is pending approvals from the market regulator and stock exchanges.

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