Amazon.com Inc has sought relief from Supreme Court (SC) in its dispute with the Future Group after a partial win from the Singapore tribunal in hand.
The Singapore International Arbitration Centre on Wednesday ruled that Future Retail is a party to the dispute arising out of the agreement between Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL) and Amazon and that it must take part in arbitration with the latter.
The arbitration centre, consequently, dismissed Future Retail's contention that it cannot be made a party to the dispute. Amazon filed an interim application within hours of the arbitral award by way of a special leave petition pending before the SC, Future Retail revealed in a stock exchange filing.
Amazon is trying to block Future's $3.4 billion sale of its retail assets to Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL), accusing it of breaking contracts. Meanwhile, Future denies any wrongdoing on its part.
After the Singapore arbitrator put the deal on hold last year in an interim decision, Future argued it should be excluded from arbitration because Amazon had initiated it incorrectly under a contract it signed with another Future group company.
In an order on Wednesday, the panel disagreed with Future. It said the three agreements at the heart of the Future-Amazon dispute must be read together, and not separately, as Future argued.
The three agreements were of "composite nature", "wide and comprehensive enough" and the tribunal "has jurisdiction over FRL (Future Retail) in this Arbitration," said the 69-page order.
The main arbitration proceedings will now begin in due course, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The dispute started after Future, India's second-largest retailer with over 1,700 stores, entered into a deal last year to sell its retail, wholesale, logistics and certain other businesses to Reliance, after COVID-19 hit its operations hard.
Amazon had its sights on ultimately owning some of Future's retail assets itself. It has argued a 2019 deal it had with a Future unit contained clauses prohibiting the Indian group from selling its retail assets to anyone on a "restricted persons" list that included Reliance.
Amazon brought proceedings against Future before a Singapore arbitration panel, and the dispute is also being fought at various Indian legal forums.
The outcome of the tussle involving two of the world's richest men, Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Reliance's Mukesh Ambani, could reshape India's pandemic-hit shopping sector and help determine whether Amazon can blunt Reliance's dominance of India's almost one trillion-dollar retail market.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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