Amazon asks court to jail Kishore Biyani in legal spat

Amazon asks court to jail retail tycoon Kishore Biyani in legal spat

The Delhi High Court will hear the matter on Jan. 28

Kishore Biyani. Credit: Bloomberg Photo

By Saritha Rai and Upmanyu Trivedi 

Amazon.com Inc. has filed a petition in an Indian court seeking detention of Future Group’s founder and seizure of assets for violating an arbitration court’s order that temporarily halted the sale of its retail operations to Reliance Industries Ltd, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Delhi High Court will hear the matter on Jan. 28. Besides seeking prison for tycoon Kishore Biyani, the ecommerce giant wants enforcement of the Singapore arbitrator’s ruling in October against the $3.5 billion deal, the people said, asking not to be identified citing rules on speaking to the media.

Also read — Amazon asks Delhi HC to block Future's asset sale to Reliance Industries

The Jeff Bezos-led American firm, in its petition, alleged deliberate and wilful disobedience of the order temporarily restraining the Future Group from going ahead with the sale, the people familiar said. It also wants the court to issue an injunction stopping the deal. Representatives for Amazon in India and the Future Group declined to comment on the petition.

The cash strapped Indian retailer, which says it would collapse should the deal with billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate fail, is essentially caught between two of the world’s richest men as they compete for dominance in India’s estimated $1 trillion consumer retail market. The new petition marks further escalation in what’s already a fierce legal wrangle across courtrooms in two countries.

Also Read — Reliance-Future deal gets SEBI nod, BSE 'no-adverse-observation' status

Going all out

Amazon, which owns a minority stake in one of Future Group’s firms, has accused the Indian retailer of violating a contract when it agreed to sell its retail assets to Reliance. Both Reliance and Future have in the past expressed their commitment to the deal.

The latest petition signals that Amazon is going all out after writing letters to India’s market and antitrust regulators in a bid to block the deal. Despite Amazon’s objections, the antitrust regulator gave its approval in November. Last week, India’s oldest exchange BSE Ltd. sent a letter saying it has no ‘adverse observations’ to certain matters regarding Future’s deal with Reliance.