Amazon: future retail regulation is impossible
Amazon.com has told India’s top court that talks to settle the dispute with Future Retail Ltd., the Mumbai-based retailer with more than 1,500 stores in the country, have reached an impasse, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday (March 15).
“We have made efforts, but nothing is possible,” Amazon lawyer Gopal Subramanium told India’s Supreme Court.
The case dates back to 2019, when Amazon acquired a 49% stake in Future Coupons, the parent company of Future Retail. At the time, an Amazon spokesperson said the investment would improve Amazon’s investment portfolio in India.
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But that same year, the Indian Competition Commission (ICC) suspended the deal. The agency ruled that Amazon suppressed information while seeking approvals for the deal.
The arbitration between Amazon and Future began in Singapore, but the two sides also fought a legal battle in Indian courts.
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Future argued that since the deal with Amazon is not backed by the ICC, it has “no legal existence” in India, and Amazon cannot use it to defend its position.
In 2020, Amazon opposed Reliance Retail’s bid to buy Future’s stores and warehouses for 247 billion rupees ($3.2 billion), alleging the deal breached its 2019 agreement with Future. .
Earlier this month, Amazon filed for an out-of-court settlement and asked a judge to resume arbitration with Future and order the company to stop an asset transfer to Reliance.
In the meantime, future investors and lenders are in limbo as Reliance and Amazon battle to dominate India’s retail sector, serving nearly 1.4 billion consumers.
Last month, Reliance began acquiring the leases of hundreds of stores formerly run by Future amid lawsuits.
Future’s lawyer, Harish Salve, told the court that the Indian retailer did not transfer any of its outlets and protested Reliance’s actions.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue an interim decision on Wednesday March 16.