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Delhi High Court Refuses Amazon Plea Against Reliance Industries

Delhi High Court Refuses Amazon Plea Against Reliance Industries

Amazon and Future Group have been locked in a complex legal battle for more than a year now that has stalled Future's $3.4 Bn sale of assets to Reliance

In 2019, Amazon and Future Group became business partners when the US company invested $200 Mn in one of its unit

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Future Group decided to sell its assets to Reliance in 2020 that became a bone of contention between Amazon and Reliance

The Delhi High Court has refused to entertain a plea submitted by ecommerce major Amazon against Reliance taking charge of Future Group’s more than hundreds of Big Bazaar stores.

Reliance Industries, India’s biggest conglomerate, took over the premises late last month citing non-payment of rent. Reliance had sub-leased these properties to the Future Group. 

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has also sought to block Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance from taking control of all the retail store sites.

“The submission is that no assets shall be transferred until the final scheme is sanctioned,” Amit Sibal, senior lawyer representing Amazon, pleaded in the court at the end of the hearing of the dispute between Amazon and the Future Group over the sale of assets, as reported by ET

During the hearing, Amit Sibal cited various media reports that around 400 Future Group stores have ‘changed hands’ from the Kishore Biyani-led Future Group to Reliance, according to ET.

On March 3, Amazon and Future Group have agreed to discuss as proposed by the US ecommerce giant, seeking to resolve disputes related to supremacy in the country’s vast retail market.

Meanwhile, Amazon has legally stalled Future Group’s $3.4 Bn asset sale to Reliance since 2020, accusing its business partner of violating certain contracts. 

Future Group has denied any wrongdoing, but the US company’s position has been backed by a Singapore arbitrator, and courts in India.

Although the dispute is in courts now, Reliance went ahead with rebranding the retail stores and began to take possession of the properties last month after the Future Group failed to make rental payments to the conglomerate. 

It has been more than one year since the battle started with Future Group deciding to sell its assets to Reliance in 2020. Amazon argued that agreements signed in 2019 with Future Group allowed it special rights over its retail assets. The Future-Reliance deal would destroy the latter prospect, the ecommerce giant has said.

However, Future denies any wrongdoing, saying Amazon is illegally seeking to exert control on its retail business. Future Retail, the group’s flagship retail arm, said it faced liquidation and over 27,000 employees could lose jobs if the Reliance deal fails.

Since then both sides have deployed a group of high-profile lawyers and top Indian legal firms in the matter. Two lawyers who formerly held the position of Solicitor General of India have played a key role in arguing for Amazon and Future.

Meanwhile, Amazon and Reliance have taken their rivalry beyond the ecommerce segment, into the OTT space. The retail giants will be battling for the telecast rights of one of the most anticipated sports events – Indian Premier League (IPL).