Employees of India's Future Retail urge top court to clear asset sale in Amazon dispute

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Shopping carts are seen outside the Big Bazaar retail store in Mumbai, India, November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Niharika Kulkarni/File Photo

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NEW DELHI, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Employees of India's Future Retail have asked the Supreme Court to allow the company to sell its retail assets and rule against Inc (AMZN.O) in an ongoing dispute, citing risks to 27,000 jobs, according to a legal filing seen by Reuters.

Future has failed to close its $3.4 billion deal to sell its retail assets to market leader Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) due to successful legal challenges by Amazon, which argues that Future violated some pre-existing contracts the two sides had struck, by deciding to sell its retail assets to Reliance.

As India's Supreme Court hears the dispute, a group of Future Retail (FRTL.NS) (FRL) employees have filed a petition urging the court to rule against Amazon, saying their livelihoods were at stake.

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If the deal fails, Future "will be pushed into liquidation, resulting in its 27,000 employees losing their livelihoods. The families of employees will be on the streets," the FRL Employee Welfare Association said in a Nov. 20 filing, seen by Reuters. The filing has not previously been reported and is not public.

Future, which denies any wrongdoing, has said it would face liquidation if the Reliance deal doesn't go through, while Amazon has repeatedly argued that its 2019 investment into a Future unit prohibits the Future-Reliance deal.

The employee's filing will likely be heard on Dec. 8, when the Supreme Court is next due to take up the matter.

The employee association also cited salary cuts in the range of 40-50% between April and July last year due to distress at Future, the country's second-largest retailer, whose businesses were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi and Abhirup Roy in Mumbai; Editing by Euan Rocha and Ana Nicolaci da Costa

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