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India's Future Retail challenges Amazon in court over Reliance deal

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is pictured inside the company's office in Bengaluru, India. Picture taken April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Future Retail has challenged its partner Amazon.com Inc in a New Delhi court to stop interfering in its $3.4 billion asset sale deal, the Indian company said in a statement on Saturday.

Amazon is locked in a bitter legal dispute with Future Group, which in August sold its retail assets to Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd. The deal breaches agreements made in 2019 by Future, according to the U.S. online retailer.

Amazon last month won an injunction to halt Future’s deal with Reliance from a Singapore arbitrator both sides had agreed to use in case of disputes. Future later said the order wasn’t binding, prompting Amazon to lodge a complaint with India’s market regulator.

The Delhi High Court was asked on Saturday to block Amazon from “misusing” the arbitration order to interfere in the Reliance deal, Future said in a filing to the stock exchange.

While further details about the challenge were not disclosed, the filing said it had made all entities who were part of the arbitration proceedings as parties to its latest suit, but was seeking relief only against Amazon.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The dispute has strained Amazon’s ties with one of India’s leading retailers as well as with Ambani, Asia’s richest man, and his Reliance group, which is fast expanding its e-commerce business and is a potential rival to Amazon.

Amazon says its 2019 deal in which it invested nearly $200 million in a Future unit had clauses saying the Indian group could not sell its retail assets to anyone on a “restricted persons” list, which included Reliance.

Future has said the deal with Reliance was critical to rescue its ailing retail business which has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Swati Bhat in Mumbai; Editing by Mike Harrison

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