Amazon Wins Order to Stall $3.4 Billion Reliance-Future Deal Inc. secured relief in its dispute withFuture Group after a court put a temporary hold on Future’s$3.4 billion sale deal with Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’sReliance Industries Ltd.

An arbitration court in Singapore restrained Future Retail Ltd. and its founders from going ahead with the sale of assets, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified as the proceedings were private. The ruling was on Amazon’s request for an interim order before main tribunal hearings start.

In an emailed statement late Sunday in Mumbai, Amazon said it got all the relief it sought, without providing specifics.

“We welcome the award of the Emergency Arbitrator,” Amazon said. “We remain committed to an expeditious conclusion of the arbitration process.”

Representatives for the Future Group declined to immediately comment when reached outside of business hours in India.

The ruling marks some respite for the American e-commerce giant as it seeks to halt India’s biggest retail deal that can give Ambani, Asia’srichest man, unparalleled dominance in the race for India’s estimated $1 trillion retail market. Ambani’s Reliance is already India’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer and has ambitious plans for the online segment, where it’ll take on Amazon.

Battle Lines

Amazon drew the battle lines earlier this month when it accused its partner, Future Group, of violating a contract by agreeing to a buyout by Reliance. The deal was a bailout for the Future Group, which could once again face a severe cash crunch amid intensifying competition and the pandemic-induced lockdown.

A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based e-tailer told Bloomberg on Oct. 8 that it had initiated steps to enforce its contractual rights, without giving more details. The deal between Reliance and Future, announced late August, is awaiting regulatory approvals, which won’t necessarily be delayed by the Singapore court’s order.

Amazon agreed to purchase 49% of one of Future’s unlisted firms last year, with the right to buy into flagship Future Retail after a period of between three and 10 years. But about two months ago, rival Reliance announced it would buy the retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units of the indebted Future Group, almost doubling its footprint.

In May, Amazon was considering increasing its stake in Future’s retail unit to as much as 49%, people familiar with the matter said at the time. But that transaction didn’t materialize in time for Future, forcing it to cut a deal with Ambani’s refining-to-retail conglomerate.

Blocking Reliance’s rising stronghold on India’s retail sector is crucial for Amazon if it wants to dominate the only billion-people plus consumer market that’s still open to foreign firms.

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