Amazon: Out-of-Court Settlement With Future Retail Is Impossible

Amazon has told India’s top court that talks to settle the dispute with Future Retail Ltd., the Mumbai-based retailer with more than 1,500 stores in the country, is at a stalemate, Bloomberg reported Tuesday (March 15).

“We made efforts, but nothing is possible,” Amazon’s lawyer Gopal Subramanium told the Supreme Court of India.

The case dates back to 2019, when Amazon purchased a 49% stake in Future Coupons, the parent company of Future Retail. At the time, an Amazon spokesperson said the investment would enhance Amazon’s portfolio of investments in India.

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But that same year, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) suspended the deal. The agency ruled Amazon had suppressed information while seeking approvals for the agreement.

Arbitration between Amazon and Future commenced in Singapore, but both sides have also been waging a legal battle in India’s courts.

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Future has argued that since the deal with Amazon isn’t backed by the CCI, it has “no legal existence” in India, and Amazon can’t use it to defend its stance.

In 2020, Amazon objected to Reliance Retail’s offer to buy Future’s stores and warehouses for 247 billion rupees ($3.2 billion), alleging the deal violated its 2019 agreement with Future.

Earlier this month, Amazon sought an out-of-court settlement and asked a judge to resume arbitration with Future and order the company to halt a transfer of assets to Reliance.

In the meantime, Future investors and lenders are in limbo as Reliance and Amazon fight to dominate India’s retail sector servicing nearly 1.4 billion consumers.

Last month, Reliance began acquiring the rental leases of hundreds of stores once run by Future amid the lawsuits.

Future’s lawyer Harish Salve told the court the Indian retailer has not transferred any of its outlets and has protested Reliance’s actions.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide on an interim order on Wednesday (March 16).