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April, 2017 6:19 PM



Woolies wins Masters dispute with Lowe's

Woolies wins Masters dispute with Lowe's

Woolworths will get on with selling its failed home improvement chain Masters' stores and sites after winning a dispute with US retailer Lowe's.

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By AAP 21.04.2017 04:43 PM

Woolworths will push ahead with the sale of its Masters property assets after winning a stoush with US hardware retailer Lowe's.

The Australian supermarket giant says an award in confidential arbitration with Lowe's means its former joint venture partner must sell its 33 per cent stake in the failed Masters business.

This will clear the way for Woolworths to complete the sale of Masters' 61 big box stores and 21 development sites to Home Consortium, a group that includes companies behind Spotlight and Chemist Warehouse.

In a statement to the ASX on Friday, Woolworths said Lowe's was now required to sell its shares in the joint venture company behind Masters for a value determined by a third-party independent expert.

"As a consequence of today's award, Woolworths will be able to conclude the proposed transaction with Home Consortium without the consent of Lowe's, once the final valuation and share transfer processes have taken place," the statement said.

Masters was wound up in December, four months after Woolworths announced several deals to facilitate its exit from hardware retailing to concentrate on its core grocery business.

The deals included the sale of Masters properties to Home Consortium for $835 million and the sale of its other hardware business, Home Timber & Hardware, to Mitre10 owner Metcash for $165 million.

Home Consortium plans to turn the Masters stores into large-format retail centres.

Lowe's threw a spanner in the works when it launched Federal Court action just days after Woolworths unveiled the Home Consortium deal.

The US retailer accused the supermarket chain of acting in bad faith after the pair failed to agree on the value of Lowe's stake.

The dispute ended up with the independent arbitrator.

Comment has been sought from Lowe's.

Shares in Woolworths closed 23 cents, or 0.88 per cent, higher at $26.51.

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