India's Future files new case against Amazon in top court over $3.4 billion retail deal

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Man walks inside the Big Bazaar retail store in Mumbai

By Aditya Kalra

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Future Retail on Saturday filed a new case against Amazon.com Inc at the Supreme Court in its latest effort to seek clearance for its $3.4 billion retail assets sale, which the U.S. firm has challenged.

The Supreme Court this month dealt a blow https://reut.rs/2TXP9wx to Future when it said an interim decision by a Singapore arbitrator in October 2020 that put its deal with Reliance Industries on hold - following Amazon's complaint - was valid in India.

The top court had also said Future could not appeal a lower court's decision against it. The retailer is now asking the top court to hear the challenge, people familiar with the case said.

In its over 6,000-page filing, Future has argued that if the deal with Reliance doesn't go through, it would cause "unimaginable" damage to the group, including possible job losses for 35,575 employees, and put at risk roughly 280 billion rupees ($3.81 billion) in bank loans and debentures.

"There is extreme urgency to hear this petition," Future counsel Yugandhara Pawar Jha said in the Supreme Court filing, which is not public. Reuters has seen the filing.

Amazon and Future spokespersons did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Amazon has for months been locked in a dispute with Future, and accuses the Indian firm of violating contracts when it sold its retail assets to market leader Reliance last year. Future denies any wrongdoing.

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 https://www.reuters.com/article/amazon-india-future-reliance-idUSKBN2871AM and deciding whether Amazon can blunt Reliance's dominance of the country's nearly trillion-dollar retail market.

The dispute started after Future, India's second-largest retailer, with more than 1,700 stores, including popular Big Bazaar supermarkets, entered a deal last year to sell its retail businesses to Reliance after COVID-19 hit its operations hard.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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