Customers outside a Big Bazaar outlet in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, India, on January 13, 2019. Photo: AFP/Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto

The battle between Amazon and Future Group over the latter’s move to sell most of its assets to Reliance Group has once again heated up.

The fight’s latest round began with Independent directors of Future Retail on Sunday writing to the Competition Commission of India seeking revocation of its earlier approval granted to Amazon to buy a stake in Future Coupons. The directors alleged that the American e-commerce giant had violated foreign direct investment norms when it picked up a 49% stake in Future Coupons and concealed facts while applying for the competition watchdog’s approval.

The directors said the watchdog should act to stop Amazon from perpetuating “its evil non-desirable designs” against the Indian company. It said the approval given by the Commission does not hold good due to the concealment and misrepresentation and false representations made by Amazon.

The seven-page letter was addressed to the competition watchdog’s chairman Ashok Kumar Gupta and a copy was marked to the stock market watchdog securities and exchange board of India chairman, the finance minister and the prime minister.

Meanwhile, as a counter move, Amazon has written to the stock market watchdog and corporate affairs ministry seeking to withdraw any permission and consents granted to Future Retail regarding the $3.4 billion merger deal with Reliance Retail, a unit of Reliance Group. The Amazon letter has also been sent to other top officials at stock exchanges such as Bombay Stock Exchange Limited and the National Stock Exchange of India Limited.

The letter claimed that Future Retail and its promoters have been able to induce many regulators to give permissions to the Indian retailer in relation to its arrangement with the Reliance Group. It alleged this is done on the basis of various misrepresentations made by Future Retail and its promoters.

Amazon had earlier challenged Future Retail’s merger with Reliance Retail, alleging that the transaction breached an agreement it had reached with the India retailer. Amazon had cited its non-compete agreement with Future Group and the requirement that any disputes would be arbitrated under the Singapore International Arbitration Centre rules.

Last month the arbitrator had rejected Future Retail’s plea to lift the interim stay on its deal with Reliance Retail. It had also held that Future Retail is a party to the ongoing arbitration between Amazon and Future group in the dispute over the sale of its assets to Reliance Retail. Future had earlier contended before the arbitrator that it should be excluded from arbitration proceedings because it is not a party to the dispute between its promoter Future Coupons Pvt Ltd and Amazon.

In August last year, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd had announced its decision to acquire the retail and wholesale business, and the logistics and warehousing business of Future Group. It included the sale of Future Group’s supermarket chain Big Bazaar, premium food supply unit Foodhall and fashion and clothes supermart Brand Factory’s retail and wholesale units.

Amazon had then approached the Singapore-based arbitrator questioning the deal. In October last year, the arbitrator had passed an interim award in favor of the US e-commerce major and barred Future Retail from taking any steps to dispose of its assets.