Ambani to fight Future Group-RIL deal arbitration award

Mukesh Ambani to challenge arbitration award in Future Group-RIL deal: Report

RIL is likely to approach a court challenging the clause invoked by Amazon before the Singapore arbitration court

Mukesh Ambani. Credit: Reuters

After reports that Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail may challenge the arbitration award from the Singapore-based arbitration centre, now Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani is exploring a countersuit against Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com, according to a report by the Mint.

According to the report, RIL is likely to approach a court challenging the clause invoked by Amazon before the Singapore arbitration court to ensure that its Rs 24,713-crore deal to acquire Future group’s assets by Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL) proceeds unhindered and without any delay. The deal would help Reliance almost double its footprint as India's largest retailer.

Also read — Future Group hints it may challenge arbitration award putting RIL deal on hold

Amazon has slapped a legal notice on Future Group, alleging that the retailer's Rs 24,713 crore asset sale to Reliance Industries violated an agreement with the e-commerce giant and dragged the Future group firm into arbitration. 

On Sunday, a single-judge arbitration panel passed an interim award in favour of Amazon, asking the Future group to put the deal on hold and said that the deal cannot go through until it finally decides the matter.

Also read — Amazon set for face-off with Ambani for retail dominance

With the dispute, Amazon is drawing the battle lines with Reliance in the race for India's estimated $1 trillion retail market, where online shopping is gaining ground. It needs the Indian partner to strengthen its foothold after becoming the authorized online sales channel for Future Retail's stores that sell everything from groceries to cosmetics and apparel.

Amazon, last year, had bought a 49 per cent stake in one of Future's unlisted firms, Future Coupons Ltd, with the right to buy into flagship Future Retail after a period between three and 10 years. Future Coupons owns a 7.3 per cent stake in Future Retail.

Also read: Relief for Amazon: Arbitration panel says Future Group can't sell biz to Reliance Industries

The tussle between Future and Amazon comes at a time when Reliance has been bolstering its position in the country's retail segment. Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd has been on a fund-raising spree and since September, it has raised Rs 37,710 crore by selling stake in its retail arm.

RRVL, operates India's largest, fastest-growing and most profitable retail business spanning supermarkets, consumer electronics chain stores, cash and carry wholesale business, fast-fashion outlets and online grocery store JioMart. 

(With inputs from PTI)