‘Please don’t let this American giant kill Future,’ Kishore Biyani’s lawyers say Amazon knew about RIL-Future Retail deal from June

‘Please don’t let this American giant kill Future,’ Kishore Biyani’s lawyers say Amazon knew about RIL-Future Retail deal from June
  • The Kishore Biyani-led group moved the Delhi High Court seeking relief from the stay order which Amazon had received from a Singapore arbitrator.
  • During the proceedings at the court, Harish Salve representing Future Retail said that Amazon has many falsehoods and one of them is claiming that it didn’t know about the Reliance-Future Retail deal until September 2020.
  • The Delhi High Court adjourned the hearing until November 11.
  • The court issued summons to Amazon, Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL) and Reliance Retail Ltd (RRL) on the FRL suit and asked them to file their written statements within 30 days.
Reliance and Future Retail’s legal tussle against Amazon continues as the Kishore Biyani-led group moved the Delhi High Court seeking relief from the stay order, which Amazon had received from a Singapore arbitrator.

After a day-long hearing, which included comments from legal representatives from Future Retail, Future Group and Amazon, the court adjourned the hearing until November 11. The Delhi High Court also sought Amazon's response on Future Retail's plea, which alleged that the Jeff Bezos-led e-commerce giant was interfering in its deal with Reliance Retail on the basis of an interim order by a Singapore arbitrator. Justice Mukta Gupta issued summons to Amazon, Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL) and Reliance Retail Ltd (RRL) on the FRL suit and asked them to file their written statements within 30 days.

‘Amazon knew about RIL-Future Retail deal’, claim Future’s lawyers

During the proceedings at the court, Harish Salve representing Future Retail said that Amazon has many falsehoods and one of them is claiming that it didn’t know about the Reliance-Future Retail deal until September 2020. Salve claimed during the proceedings that Future Retail, which was badly hit during the pandemic, had begun negotiations with Reliance during June 2020 and Amazon knew about it.
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It is important to note that Amazon in its letter to SEBI had claimed that Future had hidden facts from the e-commerce giant.

Salve argued that Amazon cannot jump into the Future Retail-Reliance transaction and if there is a dispute they will have to refer to dispute resolution.

Legal reporting platform Bar & Bench quoted the top lawyer, who also represents Reliance, “FRL is a listed entity. Before Amazon invested in FCPL, it wanted to ensure that Biyani had control over FRL. If banks sold Biyani's shares, an outsider would have come in. Amazon cannot say that they will become parties to this. They cannot come in only because there is a concept of group companies.”
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Salve further argued that Amazon’s relief is against Future Coupons and so it has to be their arbitration, but it can’t go against Future Retail. “They shouldn't interfere.. let them come to NCLT as a stakeholder if they want to,” he said during the proceedings as reported by Bar & Bench.

The lawyer also argued that FDI isn’t allowed in multi-brand retail in India and that Amazon can’t go ahead with FDI violations. Salve ended his arguments in court by saying, “Please don’t let this American giant kill Future.”

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Appearing for other Future Group parties, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that Amazon had made opportunistic opposite submissions to CCI and SEBI. “The court is dealing with a concept which is alien to Indian law. Emergency Arbitration doesn't exist in India,” he said.

Singhvi further argued that seat is Delhi for the case, as “under Singapore Rules, emergency Arbitration is pre arbitration and temporary. It is auto terminated once the arbitral panel takes over”.

Meanwhile, representing Amazon senior advocate Subramanium said, “Amazon is an investor..law gives me protective rights. Emergency Arbitrator prima facie concludes that there was no inhibition on investment in FCPL.. there was no violation of FDI. If they had succeeded before the emergency Arbitrator, would they still say it was not binding.”

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The court went on to adjourn the hearing for the day.

The legal battle so far

One of the most talked about deals in the Indian retail industry has now turned into a global fight between the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos and India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

Here’s a timeline of events in the Future Retail, Reliance vs Amazon fight so far
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On October 25, global e-commerce giant Amazon got a stay order on the Future Retail and Reliance deal from a Singapore arbitrator, and had written to BSE and SEBI to uphold the decision. Amazon had sent a legal notice to Future Coupons over Future Group’s ₹25,000 crore deal with Reliance. Amazon had said that it was denied the Rights of First Refusal for the deal with Future Group.

The Singapore court had ruled in favour of Amazon and passed an interim order that put the RIL-Future deal on hold.

Future Retail had on November 7 informed the bourses that it was seeking relief and contended that Amazon was ‘misusing’ the interim order passed by an emergency arbitrator, appointed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) on October 25, 2020.
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