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Singapore's emergency arbitrator held Future Retail investment 'legal': Amazon in SC

Singapore's emergency arbitrator held Future Retail investment 'legal': Amazon in SC

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, while appearing for Amazon, tells court that management control of business remains with Future Retail. "We only had protective rights, didn't interfere as per law."

Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Future group founder Kishore Biyani Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Future group founder Kishore Biyani

 The Supreme Court today heard arguments from both sides in the high-profile Amazon vs Future Group case. The apex court was hearing Amazon's plea against the Delhi High Court verdict, which had stayed the HC's single-judge directive and had paved the way for the Rs 24,713 crore Future Retail-Reliance Retail deal.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanian, while appearing for Amazon, said Singapore's emergency arbitrator had held the company's investment in Future Retail as legal.
Future Retail cited Indian FDI norms that ban foreign players in multi-brand retail.

"Management control of business remained with Future Retail. We only had protective rights, didn't interfere as per law. Biyanis are wilful parties to arbitration, bound by the arbitration agreement," Subramanian argued.

Subramanian told the court Biyanis entered the agreement and violated it; and then didn't argue on merits.

"Rank dishonesty, commercial immorality on part of Biyanis," he argued.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, while appearing for Future Retail, said Singapore arbitral tribunal heard the Future group. "If it rules in our favour, the emergency arbitrator order will be set aside. Emergency arbitrator's order (is) not applicable or maintainable in this case," he said.

The matter will be heard again on Tuesday.

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) also concluded its hearing on the plea filed by Amazon against the deal on July 16. Its judgement is expected after a month. SIAC had earlier formed a three-member tribunal comprising Singaporean barrister Michael Hwang, Albert van den Berg and Jan Paulsson to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of India has accused Amazon.com Inc of concealing facts and making false submissions when it sought approval for a 2019 investment in a Future Group unit, a letter to the US e-commerce giant seen by Reuters showed.

In this regard, CII has also written to Amazon asking why it shouldn't take action against the company for providing false information.

In August 2020, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd had said it will acquire Future Group's retail and wholesale assets for Rs 24,713 crore. Amazon later contested the multi-billion deal, citing it is an investor in Future Coupons that in turn is a shareholder in Future Retail Ltd. Amazon said under the pact, it had the right to buy into the flagship Future Retail after three to 10 years.

Also read: Singapore EA award restraining Future-RIL deal is valid, needs to be executed: Amazon tells SC

Also read: CCI accuses Amazon of concealing facts, making false submissions in deal for Future Group unit