By Upmanyu Trivedi
NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court has stopped regulatory approval for the Future Group’s $3.4 billion asset sale to Reliance Industries Ltd., effectively halting the deal and marking another victory for Amazon.com Inc., which wants to scuttle the transaction in its bid to dominate the country’s retail sector.
Agreeing with the American e-commerce giant’s petition, the top court on Monday overturned a lower court’s ruling and stopped India’s company tribunal from approving the transaction till further orders.
The court issued notices to Future Retail Ltd. seeking written statements on Amazon’s petition. Justice Rohinton F. Nariman who’s heading the two-judge panel said the court will hear the case again after five week.
The latest verdict restores the legal advantage for Jeff Bezos-founded Amazon that secured an interim stay on the deal from a Singapore arbitration tribunal in October after accusing the Future Group of violating a partnership contract when it agreed to sell assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate last year.
The Monday order, however, endangers Future Retail Ltd., which is struggling to pay debt and has warned of insolvency.