Amazon founder and outgoing chief executive officer Jeff Bezos was urged to not block the Reliance Retail and Future Group deal by local distributors and consumer goods traders citing financial stress and ‘collateral damage’.
In an open letter to Bezos and Amazon’s India head Amit Agarwal, the All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation (AICPD) and Public Response Against Helplessness and Action for Redressal, an NGO, have said Amazon’s “unwarranted adventurism” had caused suffering to traders and their families in India.
“While you continue with your great game of world domination, we have become what is called ‘collateral damage’. Payments of our members are blocked. Our families are in great financial stress and suffering from mental and emotional distress,” the letter said. “May we suggest you back off from this petty war that you are fighting.” They further said, “We can also suggest a mouth watering option for your litigation loving self. Pay the debts of all our members.”
The open letter by the two groups, which represent nearly 10 lakh distributors, stockists and suppliers of FMCG goods, alleges more than 6,000 small vendors and suppliers had Rs 6,000 crore worth of dues pending with the Future Group since March 2020.
On August 29, 2020, Future Group had announced that its retail and wholesale business would be sold to Reliance Retail, owned by oil-to-chemical conglomerate RIL in a Rs 24,713 crore deal. In October 2020, Amazon dragged Future Group to arbitration at Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), arguing that Future violated the contract by entering into the deal with rival Reliance.
On October 25, 2020, an interim award was passed in favour of Amazon with a single-judge bench of V K Rajah barring Future Retail from taking any step to dispose of or encumber its assets or issuing any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party.
Even after the interim award, Amazon and Future Group remain locked in a legal tussle in the matter. Both parties have approached several legal forums.
On the other hand, the Future-Reliance deal has already received clearance from CCI, SEBI and bourses, and the scheme of arrangement is now awaiting the nod from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and shareholders.
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