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

NEW DELHI, March 15 (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc launched the attack in its bitter dispute with two Indian retailers, accusing them of fraud in advertisements in Indian newspapers on Tuesday after Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) suddenly taken over from many Future Retail Stores (FRTL.NS).

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

Reliance, India’s largest conglomerate and retailer run by the country’s richest man, began taking control of prized real estate with the utmost discretion on February 25 when its staff showed up at several of the most Future department stores to take control, sources told Reuters. Read more

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In ads headlined “PUBLIC NOTICE” in major Indian newspapers on Tuesday, Amazon said, “These actions were done clandestinely by playing 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. Ongoing talks have raised hopes that the dispute could be resolved. Read more

Future said in documents filed this month that it could not pay rent at many outlets given its difficult financial situation and that Reliance, which had taken over many of its leases, had issued it notice of termination.

Amazon fears Reliance will continue to take control of Future stores even as talks continue, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to speak to the media and declined to be identified.

The newspaper announcements were intended to alert all stakeholders, including Future’s lenders, that the transfer of assets to Reliance is legally prohibited, the source added.

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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