Future Retail urges the Delhi court to declare illegal arbitration in Singapore with Amazon

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India’s Future Retail has asked a New Delhi court to declare illegal arbitration in Singapore with Amazon.com on the grounds that India’s antitrust authorities suspended a 2019 deal by Amazon to assert rights to Future do.

Amazon successfully used the terms of its $ 200 million (approximately Rs 1,485 billion) investment in the debt-laden future to block the Indian retailer’s attempt to sell retail assets to a competitor allegedly violating certain contracts had violated.

But India’s antitrust agency, the Competition Commission of India, suspended the 2019 deal in December, stating that Amazon was suppressing information while it seeks permits.

The longstanding dispute is being tried by an arbitration tribunal in Singapore, but both sides are fighting in parallel in Indian courts to enforce or overturn certain decisions made by the arbitrator.

In the latest Future Retail filing in New Delhi, the company argues that since the 2019 deal no longer has antitrust approval, it “no longer has a legal existence” in India and Amazon can no longer assert its rights.

The “continuation of the entire arbitration is a continuation of the illegality,” Future said on its December 31 filing.

The case is expected to be heard in court on Monday.

Future and Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

The filing also revealed that Futures’ appeal is being made in the Delhi High Court after the Singapore arbitral tribunal disagreed with its immediate demands for the end of the proceedings, saying the arguments would continue this month.

A source with direct knowledge said Amazon told the Singapore arbitrator in December that the CCI’s suspension of the 2019 deal does not mean the transaction is void as the watchdog has allowed Amazon to reapply for approvals.

Amazon has long argued that Future’s decision to sell retail assets to Reliance was in breach of the terms of its 2019 deal, and the U.S. company’s position has so far been supported by the Singapore arbitration and Indian courts. Future denies any wrongdoing.

However, people familiar with the case say the antitrust suspension could make it easier for Future to enforce its attempts to sell retail assets to Reliance and weaken Amazon’s legal position.

The dispute over Future Retail, with more than 1,500 supermarkets and other stores, is the most hostile focal point between Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and Reliance, led by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, who are trying to get the upper hand on attracting retail consumers.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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