The Delhi High Court has asked both US e-commerce giant Amazon and Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail Ltd (FRL) if they are open to resolving their issues with regard to the Rs 24,713 crore deal between Reliance Retail and Future Retail. Both companies, via their counsel, have said they will inform the court on February 2.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Amazon seeking directions to order the enforcement of the award by Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator, which restrained Future Group from signing a deal with Reliance Retail.
The plea filed by Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC says Biyanis, directors of Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL), FRL, and other related parties should be detained for not following the emergency arbitrator’s order.
Justice JR Midha asked both parties if they were ready to resolve issues and said the proceedings in the case would continue as scheduled. The court said if both parties agree to this, the matter can be referred to two retired judges of the Supreme Court. The court has assured to pass protective orders.
Counsels representing both companies said they will inform the court after seeking instructions. Amazon had recently moved the high court seeking a restraining order against Future Group to complete the transaction with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail. The court has also sought orders against any future sale of retail assets by Future Retail Group without its permission.
Both Amazon and Future group have been locked in a legal battle over the Rs 24,730 crore deal signed between RIL and FRL. Amazon had earlier moved the emergency arbitration court in Singapore over an alleged breach of contract between Amazon and the Future group.
In their defence, both Future Group and Reliance have said if Amazon’s claim on investment in Future Retail via Future Coupons Ltd would be accepted, it would amount to a violation of India’s foreign direct laws, as per which a company is not allowed to invest more than 10 per cent in the multi-brand sector.
Amazon had signed a Rs 1,500 crore deal to buy a 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons Ltd (FCL), a Future Retail promoter group company, in 2019. Future Coupons currently does not own a stake in Future Retail but has subscribed to convertible warrants for Rs 2,000 crore.
Biyani, in a recent internal staff memo, termed Amazon Inc’s bid to stall Future Group’s retail assets sale similar to Alexander the Great’s “ruthless ambition to scorch the earth,” Reuters reported. He said the “vexatious litigation and harassment makes one wonder about the similarity in ruthless ambition to scorch the earth akin to the Greek Alexander – after all, they are inspired to name their product Alexa.”
“History tells us that Alexander conquered large parts of the world but failed in India,” he added.