The Supreme Court has given Amazon and Future Retail twelve days to arrive at an amicable solution to the 18-month long tussle over the latter’s ₹24,713-crore deal with Reliance Industries. Lawyers of the warring companies agreed on Thursday to try and resolve the dispute through discussions. The top court has asked other courts to not pass any orders during this period.
Amazon’s lawyer Gopal Subramanian said that the “whirlpool” of litigation was being dragged for too long. “We cannot let the spinners wheel continue. At least have a conversation,” Subramanium told the apex court.
Agreeing to this, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for a Future Group said, “What stops Amazon to call Kishore Biyani and discuss. Let me assure you no one is winning in this battle. Amazon ‘God’ has to come to the ground and speak to lesser mortals like us,” said Salve. “No one is winning. FRL, Reliance, and Amazon all have issues. I don’t know why we need a court order for a dialogue.”
The court welcomed the decision of both parties to engage in a dialogue. Amazon agreed not to file any new petition. The SC will hear the matter again on March 15.
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But is a dialogue possible at this stage?
Future Group has refused to have a dialogue on multiple occasions in the past. It has even denied financial help from Amazon since the amount offered by Amazon was no where close to the ₹24,713 crore valuation offered by Reliance for Future Group’s assets.
However, sources close to the Amazon camp said that the American company is more than willing to sit across the table with Future group. “Over the next 12 days, the discussion will be focused on investment structure, and even more on whether we can work together or not,” said a source.
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BusinessLine reached out to Future Group’s Kishore and Rakesh Biyani to understand on what conditions would Future Group have a dialogue with Amazon. However, neither of them responded to queries.
Ketan Mukhija, Partner, Link Legal said the decision to talk will open doors for a more meaningful outcome for all relevant stakeholders.
Sonam Chandwani, Managing Partner, KS Legal & Associates explained that there is a possibility that the issue will be resolved amicably, as none of the parties stands to benefit from the ongoing dispute.
Experts said that the recent move by Reliance Retail to take over Future Retail’s lease agreements for over 400 stores may have tilted the battle in its favour. “It is expected that Amazon would be keen to resolve and conclude this on a positive note,” Chandwani said.
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However, Mukhija said that there are several facets to the ongoing dispute, all of which may not be resolved by the dialogue within ten days.
Chandwani believes it will be a tough discussion because “Ultimately, it would be Reliance, not Future Group, that would be seated across the table for negotiation. Given Reliance’s acquisition of the Future group, it’s tough to argue that the final outcome of this war will be a win-win situation for both the parties.”