NEW DELHI: Amazon has approached the Supreme Court in a bid to stop Future Group's $3.4 billion retail assets sale to Reliance Industries. This comes days after the Delhi High Court overturned a previous single judge decision that effectively blocked the deal. The high court order was a provisional one and the next hearing is scheduled on February 26.
The high court allowed procedures before the Competition Commission of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India to go ahead, a move opposed by the US-based retail giant, which said once the matter goes through the regulators then there could be no return.
Amazon's petition to the Apex Court mentioned that the high court should have waited for a detailed order of the single-judge bench before removing the hold on the deal.
Amazon claimed Future Group violated contracts by agreeing to sell its retail assets to Reliance Industries last year. Future Group, however, refuted all claims and denied any misconduct.
Amazon said a decision in October last year by an arbitrator in Singapore, who had put the Future-Reliance deal on hold, is applicable under Indian laws. The high court, however, had noted that Future Retail was not a party to the arbitration agreement with Amazon and so the "group of companies" rule was not applicable.
A "group of companies" rule refers to a situation when a deal signed by one firm in a group is also understood to include other firms in the group that have not signed the contract.
Amazon in its petition to the Supreme Court told that the previous court order to put the deal on hold was for protecting the interests of all parties till a decision is made on the dispute. The Jeff Bezos owned retail company said once Future Group and Reliance move ahead with a transaction, it would be difficult to reverse it.
The row centres around Future Group's decision from August 2020 to sell it's retail, wholesale and some other businesses to Reliance for $3.38 billion, including debt. Amazon argued that a separate 2019 deal it had with a Future unit had clauses saying the Indian group couldn't sell its retail assets to a list of companies, including Reliance.
Future Group has said it will be pushed towards liquidation if the deal falls through.
Future Group is India's second-largest retail chain with over 1,700 stores.