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Legal Win For Woolworths As Masters Stoush Headed To Arbitration

Woolworths has had a legal win against Lowe’s, its partner in the failed Masters chain, with the two companies headed to arbitration.

Woolworths’ application for a stay of a proceeding commenced by Lowe’s concerning home improvement joint venture company Hydrox Holdings has been granted by the Federal Court of Australia.

“The court ordered Lowe’s to pay Woolworths’ costs of the application and vacated the provisional listing of Lowe’s action for hearing in October,” Woolworths has advised.

“Justice Lindsay Foster accepted Woolworths’ submission that disputes between the company and Lowe’s must be heard in arbitration, as Lowe’s had previously agreed to do.”

Woolworths had last month advised that it had agreed to three separate contracts facilitating its exit from home improvement for estimated gross proceeds of $1.5 billion, with it moving to cease trading at all Masters stores by December 11.

However, Lowe’s had subsequently filed a motion requesting that the Federal Court of Australia appoint a liquidator to oversee the wind-up of the Masters joint venture vehicle Hydrox.

“Despite every effort to reach a fair resolution with its JV partner, Lowe’s has been left with no other option but to seek the guidance of the court to achieve an equitable and orderly wind-up of the Masters business,” Lowe’s had stated upon making the move.

Lowe’s had stated that Woolworths had “engaged in oppressive conduct, including by invalidly and in bad faith attempting to terminate the JV”.

Woolworths has advised that the arbitration is confidential, with it to keep the market informed of any outcomes.

“The transactions relating to the Home Timber and Hardware sale and Masters inventory clearance by GA Australia are proceeding as announced,” Woolworths advised.

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