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Future Retail’s creditors seek 90 days extension for concluding insolvency resolution process

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The CIRP was initiated against FRL by NCLT on July 20, 2022, following loan default

New Delhi: Lenders of debt-ridden Future Retail Ltd (FRL) has sought an extension of 90 days for concluding the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) of the company.

The resolution professional of FRL has filed an application before the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) “seeking exclusion of a period of 90 days from CIRP of FRL, and consequent extension from April 16, 2023, to July 15, 2023, for concluding the CIRP of FRL.”

The CIRP was initiated against FRL by NCLT on July 20, 2022, following loan default.

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) time frame for resolution is 330 days, inclusive of the time taken for litigation.

As per Section 12(1) of the Code, the CIRP shall be completed within a period of 180 days from the date of initiation. However, NCLT may grant a one-time extension of 90 days. The maximum time within which CIRP must be mandatorily completed, including any extension or litigation period, is 330 days.

Besides, the resolution professional has also filed an application before the Mumbai bench of the NCLT, seeking directions with respect to gaining access to the inaccessible stores and warehouses of FRL, the company said in a regulatory filing.

In February 2022, Reliance Retail has taken over 200 Future Group stores and had re-branded as Reliance stores, accordingly after the Kishore Biyani-led group failed to make lease payments to the landlords.

Reliance Retail, the retail arm of the oil-to-telecom conglomerate, had in August 2020 agreed to take over the retail and logistics business of the Future Group for Rs 24,713 crore but the deal couldn’t be closed as Future’s warring partner Amazon went to courts citing violation of some contracts.

Last week, lenders had informed that they have received Expression of Interest (EoI) from 49 players, including Reliance Retail, Jindal Power Ltd and Adani group for acquiring the assets of FRL.

On March 23, 2023, FRL’s lender had invited new expressions of interest where prospective buyers can bid for the debt-ridden firm “as a going concern or individual cluster or a combination of clusters of its assets”, as it failed to attract a resolution plan in over four months.

Earlier, it had received EoI and finalised 11 prospective bidders, including Reliance and April Moon Retail, but could not get a resolution plan despite two extensions in the deadline for submissions.

The Committee of Creditors had provided two options in the EoI, for which the last date for submission was April 7, 2023.

In the first option, the Prospective Resolution Applicant (PRA) could bid for the acquisition of Future Retail as a whole, including its shareholding interest in its subsidiaries. While under the second option, Future Retail’s business has been distributed in five clusters diving business, in which PRAs can bid for “any individual cluster or any combination of clusters.”

As per the invitation, FRL currently has access to 302 leased retail stores spread across 23 states and union territories, consisting of 30 large format stores such as Big Bazaar and FBB stores and 272 small format stores.

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