3-way Future talks fail, Amazon wants international arbitration resumed - Times of India

3-way Future talks fail, Amazon wants international arbitration resumed – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: US multinational Amazon on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court about the failure of its talks with the Biyani Group and Reliance for settlement of dispute over the control of Future Retail’s assets and pushed for resumption of its stalled international arbitration proceedings with Future Coupons.
Shortly after Reliance Retail had effected a coup of sorts by taking over the reins of nearly 600 stores of Future Retail, Amazon had on March 3 suggested to the SC that it was open to talks with the Biyani Group, which owns the Future Group, for an amicable settlement. The court had said that the talks should also involve Reliance Retail.
Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam informed a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli that since the talks failed to yield result, the arbitration proceedings should commence immediately.
Amazon said it was open to the arbitral tribunal giving priority to Future Coupon’s application seeking termination of arbitration proceedings on the ground that the Competition Commission has kept in abeyance its earlier decision to allow Amazon to invest in Future Coupons.
It is on the basis of the Rs 1,473-crore investment in Future Coupon that Amazon objected to Future Retail’s agreement to sell its chain of stores to Reliance Retail for nearly Rs 25,000 crore. The arbitral tribunal had given an interim stay on the agreement.
Taking a direct aim at Reliance Retail, which till now is not a party to either the arbitration proceedings or the multi-layered litigation between Amazon and Future Group, Subramaniam said Reliance Retail has shown utter disregard for the SC’s orders by taking over nearly 600 stores of Future Retail through a backdoor method and requested the SC to restrain Future Retail from giving up the balance 300 shops to Reliance.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Future Retail, said Reliance has not taken over the shops. “Litigations initiated by Amazon have driven Future Retail to bankruptcy. It had no money to pay the rent of the shopowner for two years, which had accumulated to Rs 250 crore. The landlords cancelled the lease. Reliance went and took over the leases by paying the money. But no asset has been transferred to Reliance.”
“We are strangulated of funds. If Amazon had not stalled the scheme to sell assets to Reliance, we would have had some money. We are broke and that is the hard reality. Reliance did what it was entitled to under the local laws,” Salve said. The bench said since the settlement is out of the question, it was for Amazon to file an application seeking interim relief.

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