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Amazon moves Supreme Court to block Future’s $3.5 billion deal with Reliance

Amazon moves SC against Future-Reliance retail deal

American retail giant Amazon has approached the Supreme Court to block Future Group's $3.4 billion (Rs 24,713 crore) retail assets sale to billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries. The move comes after the Delhi High Court in an interim order revoked an earlier single judge’s ruling that had put the deal on hold.

Amazon in its petition to the Supreme Court said the high court should have waited for a detailed order of the single-judge bench before allowing the deal to move ahead, according to a Reuters report.

The high court had held that, prima facie, Amazon had no reason to seek a status quo order from the single judge when it was not interested in the deal.

The division bench had also pointed out that when the deal is as per law, authorities like Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and Competition Commission of India (CCI) cannot be restrained from proceeding.

Amazon claims a decision in October last year by an arbitrator in Singapore, who had put the Future-Reliance deal on hold, is enforceable under Indian laws. The high court, however, had noted that Future Retail was not a party to the arbitration agreement with Amazon and so the "group of companies" doctrine was not applicable.

The dispute has arisen over Future's decision in August to sell its  businesses to Reliance for $3.38 billion, which includes a huge debt piled up by the Kishore Biyani-led company. Amazon argues that a separate 2019 deal it had with a Future unit had clauses saying the Indian group would not sell its retail assets to a list of companies, including Reliance.

The debt-ridden Future Group, India's second-largest retailer with over 1,700 stores, has said it will go bankrupt if the deal with Reliance does not come through.

This would also have adverse repercussions on several banks that have lent money to the group.