India's Future Group shares jump after arbitration with Amazon halted

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BENGALURU (Reuters) - Shares in Future Group companies jumped on Thursday, a day after an Indian court halted arbitration proceedings between the conglomerate and estranged partner Inc.

A two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court on Wednesday agreed with Future Group that there was no legal basis for the arbitration between the two sides to continue given India's antitrust agency had suspended a key 2019 deal used by Amazon to assert rights over Future.

Future Enterprises, Future Consumer, Future Retail and Future Lifestyle Fashions rose as much as between 7.5% and 13.8% in a weak Mumbai market.

The Delhi court's decision is a setback for the U.S. e-commerce giant, which had for months used the terms of its $200 million investment in Future Group in 2019 to block the Kishore Biyani-owned company's attempt to sell retail assets to Reliance Industries, until the antitrust agency's suspension of the deal last December.

Future Group previously said if the Reliance asset sale deal fails, it will likely face liquidation as its retail businesses were hit hard during the pandemic.

The court will reconvene on Feb. 1 to hear the case again. A source familiar with the case said Amazon was likely to legally challenge the decision.

The dispute between Future Group, Amazon and Reliance is seen as a battle for dominance in the Indian retail market between Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Reliance's Mukesh Ambani.

Future Group, Amazon and Reliance did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

(Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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