HC rejects Future Group’s plea seeking termination of SIAC arbitration proceedings


MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected Future Group’s plea challenging the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s (SIAC) order that had dismissed the Indian retailer’s plea to stay the arbitration proceedings with Amazon Inc. This paves the way for Amazon to continue its arbitration proceedings with Future Group which will commence from 28 November.

Amazon had moved the Supreme Court in the matter.

On the 17 November, the top court had made it clear that it will not allow stalling of arbitral proceedings pending before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) pertaining to the ongoing legal tussle between US e-commerce major Amazon and the Future Group, saying the sanctity of such proceedings needed to be maintained.

The US e-commerce giant had also sought damages from Future group pertaining to its investment of 1,400 crore in Future Coupons.

The Delhi High Court had earlier reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas on the ongoing legal tussle between Amazon and the Future Group over Future Retail Ltd’s (FRL) deal with Reliance Retail.

On 28 June, SIAC had rejected a Future Group plea seeking termination of arbitration proceedings over the US giant’s investment in Future Coupons. In its order, the SIAC held that it would continue with the arbitration proceedings that began in October 2020 after Future Group proposed to sell its retail, wholesale and logistics assets to Reliance industries for 24, 713 crore.

Last month, Future Group had moved the Delhi High Court against the SIAC ruling.

Future Retail had argued that there was no basis for the tribunal to continue with the arbitration since the approval for the agreement based on which Amazon approached SIAC has been kept in abeyance by the Competition Commission of India.

Future Group and Amazon have been locked in a bitter battle for over a year following a decision by the Indian retailer to sell its Big Bazaar business to Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries.

The deal was opposed by Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC on grounds that its investment of 1,400 crore in Future Coupons, which is one of promoters of Future Retail, does not allow Future to sell retail assets to certain companies, including Reliance. At stake was whether Amazon can become a bigger force in a $900 billion retail market, with 1.3 billion consumers, than Reliance.

At present, Adani, Reliance Industries and several other players have evinced interest in buying the cash-strapped firm under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

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