A Singapore arbitration panel on Wednesday declined Future Retail’s bid to exclude itself from an ongoing commercial dispute with Amazon.com Inc, according to an order seen by Reuters, the latest boost to the US e-commerce giant’s bid to stall the Indian retailer’s asset sale. The panel said Future Retail is a “proper party” to ongoing arbitration proceedings with Amazon.
Amazon has for months been locked in a dispute with Future, and accuses the Indian firm of violating contracts when it sold its retail assets to market leader Reliance Industries in a $3.4 billion deal last year. Future denies any wrongdoing.
After the Singapore arbitrator put the deal on hold last year while it heard the matter at length, Future Retail had argued it should be excluded from the proceedings as Amazon had initiated the case under a contract it signed with another Future group company.
The panel in an order on Wednesday, which is not public, disagreed with Future Group. It said three agreements at the heart of the Future Group-Amazon dispute must be read together, and not separately, as Future had argued.
The tribunal “has jurisdiction over FRL in this Arbitration,” said the 69-page order.
In August last year, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL) had said it will acquire the retail and wholesale business, and the logistics and warehousing business of Future Group for Rs 24,713 crore.
The deal has been contested by Amazon, an investor in Future Coupons that in turn is a shareholder in Future Retail Ltd.
In August 2019, Amazon had agreed to purchase 49 per cent of one of Future’s unlisted firm, Future Coupons Ltd (which owns 7.3 per cent equity in BSE-listed Future Retail through convertible warrants), with the right to buy into the flagship Future Retail after a period of three to 10 years.
After Future’s deal with RRVL, Amazon had dragged Future into arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).
In October, an interim award was passed by the Emergency Arbitrator (EA) in favour of the US-based e-commerce major that barred Future Retail from taking any step to dispose of or encumber its assets or issuing any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party.
Amazon and Future have also filed litigations in Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, on the issue. The apex court had recently ruled in favour of Amazon by holding that the EA award was valid and enforceable under Indian laws.
Notably, the Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail Ltd, on August 28, said it has approached the Supreme Court against an order passed by the Delhi High Court to maintain status quo in relation to the deal and directing it to enforce the order of the Singapore-based Emergency Arbitrator.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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