Future Group promoter Kishore Biyani has said Amazon is playing "dog in a manager" as the multinational e-commerce giant engages in a massive legal battle with Future Retail Ltd (FRL) over its Rs 24,713 crore deal with Reliance Industries Ltd. According to Biyani, Amazon is trying to shuffle the RIL-Future group deal via coordinated and concerted media campaigns against his company.
"Amazon is playing the dog in the manger, going all out to create a ruckus through a concerted and coordinated media campaign, primarily fuelled by leaking of selective and misleading information to misguide media," Biyani, in a letter to Future Group employees, said last Friday.
Biyani compared Amazon's "ruthless" campaign to that run by "Greek Alexander". Biyani said that history tells that Alexander conquered large parts of the world but failed in India. "Vexatious litigation and harassment makes one wonder about the similarity in ruthless ambition to scorch the earth akin to the Greek Alexander - after all, they are inspired to name their product as Alexa," the letter said.
"We are on firm legal footing and this is vindicated by the approvals," Biyani said in his memo.
In its ugly legal spat with Future Group, Amazon has asked Delhi High Court to detain Kishore Biyani in a civil prison, along with other directors of Future Group for "deliberately" not following the Singapore emergency arbitration court's order that put the deal between RIL and FRL on hold.
The Delhi High Court on Monday asked both Amazon and Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail if they were open to resolving their issues. Both companies, via their counsel, said they will confirm their stand today.
Justice JR Midha asked both parties if they were ready to resolve issues and said the proceedings in the case would continue as scheduled. The court said if both parties agree to this, the matter can be referred to two retired judges of the Supreme Court. The court has assured to pass protective orders in the meantime.
Both Future Group and Reliance have said if Amazon's claim on investment in Future Retail via Future Coupons Ltd would be accepted, it would amount to a violation of India's foreign direct laws, as per which a company is not allowed to invest more than 10 per cent in the multi-brand sector.
In August 2019, Amazon bought a 49 per cent stake in one of Future Group's unlisted companies - Future Coupons Ltd (FCL) - along with the right to acquire the listed flagship FRL after a few years, if the Centre were to revoke its ban on foreign ownership of multi-brand retailers. Future Retail ran into a severe cash crunch after the nationwide lockdown imposed to curb coronavirus outbreak. To stay afloat, it cut a deal with RIL to sell assets for Rs 24,713 crore. Amazon later moved court against the deal.