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Future Retail moves Delhi HC to halt Amazon case at Singapore tribunal

Amazon, which had in 2019 acquired a stake in its gift voucher unit through a deal, says Future Coupons breached the contract through a deal with Reliance

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Future Retail Ltd has filed a writ petition before the Delhi seeking to halt the proceedings in Amazon’s case at the International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the supermarket company said in a regulatory filing on 3 January.

Amazon and Future group are locked in a legal battle at the tribunal over the latter’s bid to sell its physical stores and warehouses to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), in a proposed Rs 24,500 crore deal.

Future Retail Ltd submitted the plea before the Delhi days after the arbitration tribunal refused the request of the former to seek the termination of the arbitration proceedings in an order issued on 29 December.

“This petition seeks to assail the impugned orders passed by a Delhi seated arbitral tribunal in said arbitration proceedings,” Future Retail Ltd informed the stock exchanges.

Amazon, which had gained a toehold in the Future group in 2019 through a $ 200-million deal to acquire a stake in its gift voucher unit, Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL), has alleged breach of contract through the proposed Reliance-Future Retail Ltd deal.

Future’s latest move aimed at termination of proceedings at SIAC comes in the backdrop of the suspension of its 2019 deal with Amazon by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

The antitrust regulator said in an order issued on 17 December that it was revoking its clearance to the Amazon-FCPL deal as the American giant had concealed information.

Amazon suppressed “the actual purpose and particulars” of the 2019 deal and sought to “establish false representation and suppression of material facts”, the CCI said, adding that it was now “necessary to examine” the deal afresh and its approval “shall remain in abeyance” until then.

According to the Future group, the arbitration proceedings lack a legal ground as the 2019 deal with FCPL, which Amazon used to block the Reliance-Future Retail Ltd deal, has been struck down by the CCI.

For Amazon, the suspension of arbitration proceedings would be a major setback, as it would allow Future Retail to proceed with its planned sale of assets to RIL. The giant and Reliance are competing to increase their share in India’s billion-plus consumer market.

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