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Amazon slams Reliance takeover of Future stores as ‘fraud’ in India newspaper ads

Randy Mancini 3 Mar 15
A delivery boy parks his scooter outside a Reliance Smart Bazaar retail store, which was previously Future Retail's Big Bazaar outlet in Mumbai
A delivery boy parks his scooter outside a Reliance Smart Bazaar retail store, which was previously Future Retail's Big Bazaar outlet in Mumbai, India, March 14, 2022. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

March 15, 2022

By Aditya Kalra and Abhirup Roy

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Amazon.com Inc has gone on the attack in its bitter dispute with two Indian retailers, accusing them of fraud in Indian newspaper ads on Tuesday after Reliance Industries suddenly took over many of Future Retail stores.

Amazon has been contesting the planned $3.4 billion sale of Future Group’s retail assets to Reliance, first announced in 2020, and the case is currently before the Indian Supreme Court.

Reliance, India’s biggest conglomerate and retailer run by the country’s richest man, began taking over the prized real estate with utmost stealth on Feb.25 when its staff showed up at many of Future biggest stores to assume control, sources have told Reuters.

In ads headlined “PUBLIC NOTICE” in leading Indian newspapers on Tuesday, Amazon said: “these actions have been done in a clandestine manner by playing a fraud on the constitutional courts in India.”

Future and Reliance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amazon’s public outcry comes even though on March 3 it offered to hold talks. The ongoing talks have raised hopes the dispute could be resolved.

Future has said in filings this month that it could not pay rent at many outlets given its distressed financial situation and that Reliance, which had taken over many of its leases, had issued it with termination notices.

Amazon is concerned that Reliance is continuing to take over Future stores even as the talks continue, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter who was not authorised to speak to media and declined to be identified.

The newspaper ads were aimed at alerting all stakeholders, including Future’s lenders, that the transfer of assets to Reliance is legally prohibited, the source added.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Abhirup Roy; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)