New Delhi: Future Retail Ltd. has sought to halt and terminate Amazon.com Inc.’s case at a Singapore arbitration tribunal, a move that could allow the cash-strapped Indian retailer to sell some of its assets to Reliance Industries Ltd..
Armed with a December antitrust ruling against Amazon, Future Retail has petitioned the Delhi High Court and the arbitration tribunal in Singapore saying that continuing arbitration would be illegal, according to people familiar with the filing. The Singapore tribunal on Dec. 30 refused to consider Future’s request for terminating the arbitration before starting a final hearing later this week, prompting the Indian retailer to move the Delhi court.
If successful, the latest attempt by Future Retail can end the arbitration case that had blocked the sale of some of its physical assets like stores and warehouses to Reliance Industries Ltd. Future Retail is coming under increasing pressure from investors, with its dollar bonds on Monday dropping the most since Nov. 16 after it missed payments to lenders and its credit rating was downgraded.
A halt or termination of the arbitration case would be a setback for Amazon, which is in a race with Reliance to dominate India’s billion-plus consumer market.
The Delhi High Court on Monday agreed to hear Future group firms’ petition after one of its lawyers Mukul Rohatgi cited “immense urgency” in the matter during an online hearing. Representatives of Future, Amazon said they couldn’t immediately comment.
Future Retail contends that continuing arbitration would be illegal as Amazon’s 2019 deal, on the basis of which the arbitration was initiated, has no legal existence after the antitrust body’s order suspended its approval, according people familiar with the filing. The Competition Commission of India had last month said the deal will “remain in abeyance.” It fined Amazon 2.02 billion rupees saying the e-tailer failed to disclose that the deal would give Amazon a right in Future Retail. –Bloomberg
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