Amazon presents new legal challenges in dispute with Future Group sources

Smartphone with Amazon logo is seen in front of the Indian flag shown in this illustration taken July 30, 2021. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration // File image

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NEW DELHI, January 9 (Reuters) – Inc has filed new legal challenges in its long-running dispute with Indian retailer Future Group after the national antitrust agency suspended a 2019 agreement between the two sides, which led to a stop in their arbitration, four sources told Reuters Sunday.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) last month suspended its approval of Amazon’s 2019 deal with Future, which hindered the US e-commerce giant’s attempt to block the sale of Future’s retail assets to Indian market leader Reliance Industries (RELI.NS).

The suspension jerked Amazon when a court in New Delhi stopped the arbitration case between the two sides.

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Late Saturday night, Amazon appealed an appeal against the CCI suspension decision to India’s National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, two of the sources said.

Separately, two other sources said, Amazon also filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court against the Delhi court ruling where judges last week said Future-Amazon arbitration cases must remain pending until February 1 in light of the antitrust suspension of the deal.

Amazon and CCI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The registrations are the latest in a bitter legal battle involving Amazon, Future and Reliance over what is being seen as a battle for retail supremacy in India’s booming consumer market.

Reliance, run by one of India’s richest men Mukesh Ambani, wants to expand its footprint by acquiring debt-laden Future, but Amazon has told India’s antitrust body that it believes Reliance’s consolidated position “will further restrict competition in the Indian retail market”.

Amazon has long claimed that Future violated the terms of the 2019 agreement by deciding to sell retail funds to Reliance. The US company’s position has so far been supported by the arbitrator in Singapore and Indian courts. Future denies any wrongdoing.

However, after CCI suspended the agreement’s approval, saying that Amazon suppressed information while seeking approval for the agreement, Future has claimed that Amazon no longer has any legal basis to pursue the dispute.

Both Amazon’s anchors, to the Indian court and the Supreme Court, are likely to be heard in the coming days, two of the sources said.

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Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Edited by Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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