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    Future urges HC to stop Amazon from 'derailing' Reliance deal

    Synopsis

    The court also said that the issue of maintainability of the suit, raised by Amazon, would be kept open. The order was passed after hearing day-long arguments on behalf of FRL, FCPL, Reliance and part arguments by Amazon. The arguments on behalf of Amazon will continue on Wednesday. .

    Agencies
    Subsequently, Amazon wrote to market regulator SEBI, stock exchanges and Competition Commission of India (CCI), urging them to take into consideration the Singapore arbitrator's interim decision as it is a binding order, FRL told the high court.
    NEW DELHI: Future Retail has urged the Delhi High Court to grant a temporary injunction, restricting Amazon from “derailing” its proposed sale of assets to Reliance Retail.

    Harish Salve, representing the Kishore Biyani company, termed Amazon’s legal proceedings a ‘ploy’ to kill competition in India. “If this injunction is not granted and Amazon manages to derail this transaction … because all these agreements are time-sensitive, for me it will be the end of the road,” Salve said, on behalf of Future Retail.

    Amazon, meanwhile, said that Future Retail had agreed that the Indian retailer will not transfer shares or create any encumbrance without the consent of current shareholders.

    Last year, Amazon bought 49% stake in Future Coupons — which owns 7.3% of Future Retail — with an option to buy out the entire holding.

    Salve alleged that Amazon’s recent legal proceedings were part of a larger “game” playing out in the Indian retail landscape.

    “Please do not allow this American giant to kill Future only to further its illegitimate interest in making sure (that) Reliance (Industries) doesn’t get its hand on these 1,400 shops (owned by Future Group). That is this game. If I can’t get it, let’s sink the ship,” Salve said on Tuesday during the hearing that took place through videoconferencing.

    RIL has emerged as one of the biggest challengers to India’s offline and online retailers. The Mumbai-based conglomerate is now seeking to take on Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart with its omni-channel strategy that seek to marry its 12,000 brick-and-mortar outlets with the JioMart ecommerce venture, while roping in millions of local kirana shops.

    Salve said that if the US giant had any monetary dispute with Future Coupons, it could have approached the Biyani family for compensation.

    Salve said Future Retail does not have any contractual rights with Amazon and the US giant has only invested in Future Coupons, a promoter company of Future Retail. “As far as I am concerned, I am a listed entity and I have private shareholders, public shareholders.”

    Amazon’s lawyer Gopal Subramanium said Future Coupons and Future Retail are both controlled by the Biyanis. He said Future Retail had agreed in its agreements with Amazon that the Indian retailer would not transfer shares or create any encumbrance without the consent of current shareholders. However, Subramanium claimed, no prior consent was sought.

    “We have a stake that is less than 10% under the FDI, but I have certain covenants under investors’ protection. These are investor protection rights and don't give us any control … this very plaintiff walked with us in the CCI and at that time they did not oppose anything.”

    While Subramanium represented Amazon, Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Future Coupons and Abhishek Singhvi appeared for Reliance Retail. The court will again hear the case on Wednesday.

    Singhvi said Amazon knew about the impeding deal between Future and Reliance Retail since May and questioned the US giant’s decision to approach a Singapore arbitration forum only in September. “Direct interaction between RIL and Amazon also happened. Now they are trying to be a dog in the manger.”
    ( Originally published on Nov 10, 2020 )
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    2 Comments on this Story

    Antony Raj Raj113 days ago
    Amazon should have moved fast earlier but was waiting to see the depth of the Future group. Amazon is so afraid of JIO and now woke up and desperate to block an Indian company growing to International standards, while doing business in India with Indian customers. Amazon could not succeed in China and hope it will not block the dreams of Indians to see Indian companies like RIL, TCS, etc to become better than FAANG
    Nuraj Bakshi113 days ago
    Now Yesc will first Amazon and then India for sure due to Modi crony capitalism policies!!
    And if treaties between countries are ruled out and not adhered, every country. will try to screww India and loser will be ultimately India due to future sanctions that will come in effect due to mishandling and misadventures!!
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