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Woolworths wins dispute with US biz Lowe's

 

Woolworths can press ahead with the sale of Masters' property assets after winning a stoush with former US joint venture partner Lowe's.

The Australian supermarket giant says an award in the confidential arbitration with Lowe's means the US hardware giant must sell its 33 per cent stake in the failed Masters stores.

This will allow Woolworths to complete the sale of Masters' 61 big box hardware stores and 21 development sites for $835 million to a consortium that wants to turn them into retail centres.

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.

Woolworths' deal with Home Consortium, which includes companies behind retailers Spotlight and Chemist Warehouse, was thrown into limbo just days after it was struck in August when Lowe's launched legal action.

The US retailer took Federal Court action, accusing Woolworths 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.