© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Kishore Biyani, CEO and founder of India’s Future Group poses after the inauguration of Foodhall, a premium lifestyle food superstore by the Future Group, store in Mumbai
MUMBAI (Reuters) – An Indian court put on hold on Monday an order restraining Future Group chief Kishore Biyani from selling personal assets, amid legal challenges to the group’s $3.4-billion retail deal.
The legal fight over Future’s assets has embroiled two of the world’s richest men, Jeff Bezos of U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:) and Mukesh Ambani of Indian congolomerate Reliance Industries.
In various Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, Amazon has accused Future of violating certain contracts by agreeing to sell its retail assets to Reliance. Future has denied any wrongdoing.
Last week, a Delhi High Court judge ordered Biyani and others not to dispose of their assets and asked why they did not obey an arbitrator’s directive last year that blocked the transaction.
But on Monday, the court’s Chief Justice D. N. Patel, heading a two-judge panel, put the order on hold after hearing Future’s appeal against it, saying the dispute was already being argued before the Supreme Court.
“We hereby stay” the order, Patel added.
In February, in a hearing on Amazon’s challenge to the deal, the Supreme Court said final approval should be withheld until it heard objections from the U.S. e-commerce giant.
Amazon and a spokesman for Future and Biyani did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The final outcome of the tussle over Future’s assets is seen shaping India’s shopping sector, now reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, and will decide if Amazon is able to dent the dominance of Reliance.
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