People shop for clothes inside the Big Bazaar retail store in Mumbai, India, November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Niharika Kulkarni/File Photo
NEW DELHI, Oct 27 (Reuters) – India’s Future Retail (FRTL.NS) has asked a Delhi court to quash a decision by a Singapore arbitration panel that has kept the $3.4 billion sale of Future’s retail assets in limbo while the panel hears objections from Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).
Amazon has mounted legal challenges against Future’s planned asset sale to market leader Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) since last year, accusing the company of violating certain contracts by doing so. Future denies any wrongdoing.
A Singapore arbitrator last year put the Future-Reliance deal on hold, and the panel last week declined Future’s request to revoke that decision. On Wednesday, Future asked the Delhi High Court to intervene and quash the arbitrator’s decision according to Indian law, its legal filing seen by Reuters shows.
“The Arbitral Tribunal erroneously rejected FRL’s (Future Retail) contention,” its filing stated. “FRL submits that the standards applied by the Arbitral Tribunal … are incorrect.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Future is India’s second-largest retailer with over 1,700 stores and has warned that failure to strike the deal with Reliance could push it into liquidation.
The dispute started when Future, hamstrung by an economic hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, entered into a deal last year to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and certain other businesses to Reliance.
Amazon had its sights on ultimately owning some of Future’s retail assets itself. It has argued a 2019 deal it had with a Future unit contained clauses prohibiting the Indian group from selling its retail assets to anyone on a “restricted persons” list that included Reliance.
The outcome of the tussle involving two of the world’s richest men, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Reliance’s Mukesh Ambani, is seen as reshaping India’s pandemic-hit shopping sector and deciding whether Amazon can blunt Reliance’s dominance of the country’s nearly trillion-dollar retail market.
Reporting by Abhirup Roy; editing by David Evans
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Mark White is the editor of the ProcurementNation, a Media Outlet covering supply chain and logistics issues. He joined The New York Times in 2007 as an commodities reporter, and most recently served as foreign-exchange editor in New York.