Amazon is upping the ante in its bid to thwart the $3.4 billion acquisition of Future Retail by the U.S. tech company’s major Indian eCommerce rival, Reliance Industries, owned by Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia.
The U.S. online retail and tech behemoth on Wednesday (Nov. 11) called upon Indian market regulators to investigate Future for insider trading, Reuters reported.
In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Amazon contends Future Retail “disclosed to Reliance price sensitive details of an injunction granted by a Singapore arbitrator to block the deal,” the news service reports.
Responding to a Reuters query, a Future spokesman acknowledged the firm’s communication with Reliance, but said it was for a “legitimate purpose” related to communications on the arbitration order.
The Future spokesman told the news service that Amazon, which declined to comment, had not provided any evidence to back its claims.
Amazon has been pushing to stop Reliance from consummating its takeover of Future, with the supermarket and high-end food store chain having more than 1,500 locations across India.
Amazon invested $200 million in a Future unit last year in a bid to burrow more deeply into India’s fast-growing eCommerce market.
Under the deal, Future was barred from selling its assets to a list of companies that included Reliance, Amazon contends.
In a previous complaint filed with Indian security regulators, Amazon called on the Securities and Exchange Board of India to block the deal.
Future has argued that Amazon’s deal was with another unit and that it needed to sell to Reliance to protect the interest of its stakeholders after its retail grocery business took a severe hit amid the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Singaporean arbitrator — agreed to by both Amazon and Future — recently sided with Amazon, citing what it interpreted as Future’s contract obligations.
However, Indian legal experts have questioned whether the order can be enforced in India, according to Reuters.