BREAKING NEWS: Lowe’s Goes After Masters Document Court Hearing Later Today
Masters partner US hardware giant Lowe’s has turned hostile, with the company set to make submissions to the Federal Court today in an effort to get hold of documents relating to negotiations that Woolworths as hard with various groups looking to buy or take over Masters assets.
The move could impede the winding down of Masters who are currently trying to shift over $500 million worth of inventory including over $100 million worth of appliances.
Lowe’s has scheduled a hearing before the Registrar of the Federal Court this afternoon and its lawyers are expected to ask for a wide range of documents that relate to Woolworths’ announcement last month that it would carve up the assets of Masters, selling it off to a range of buyers and investors, and then shut down all Masters stores.
That fire sale, which has angered Masters joint venture partner Lowe’s, includes selling Masters properties to a consortium of high-net worth individuals and families led by former UBS boss David Di Pilla for more than $750 million, selling Home Timber & Hardware to Metcash for $165 million and the sale of Masters inventory for around $500 million the Australian newspaper reported.
But Lowe’s, which owns one third of Masters, has objected to deals struck by Woolworths and raced to court last month to seek an immediate winding up of Masters and an equitable division of its remaining assets.
That court action could scupper Woolworths’ (WOW) own $1.5 billion disposal plans.
When Lowe’s went to the court last month it didn’t inform Woolworths, keeping it in the dark even as its lawyers were arguing their case before a judge.
One entity currently being targeted by Lowe’s is the holding company Hydrox Holdings which owns the Masters assets. It is believed Lowe’s will ask the court for any documents relating to discussions that the company hard Mr Di Pilla’s consortium as well as other investors and advisers as it set about putting together its plans to shut down Masters.
Woolworths is expected to argue before the Federal Court this afternoon that Lowe’s should not be given access to these documents and that it is too expansive.