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Woolworths and Lowe’s headed for arbitration

MastersThe courtroom stoush between Woolworths and its US-based joint venture partner in the collapsed Masters hardware chain has been sent to arbitration.

Woolworths has secured a stay of Federal Court proceedings brought by Lowe’s seeking a wind-up by liquidator of the Masters business.

The US hardware giant accused its Australian partner of acting “oppressively” in its termination of the joint venture.

On Tuesday Judge Lindsay Foster granted a stay of the proceedings and vacated future hearing dates, with Woolworths and Lowe’s to now seek to resolve all matters in the dispute – except the final question of whether a winding up order is to be made – via arbitration.

US hardware giant Lowe’s claims Woolworths is negotiating the liquidation of the companies’ Masters joint venture without legal authority.

In a statement to Inside Retail, Woolworths said it was pleased to note that the Federal Court of Australia granted Woolworths’ application for a stay of a proceeding, commenced by Lowe’s concerning the home improvement joint venture.

Woolies said 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.

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.

The arbitration is confidential, and Woolworths said it will keep the market informed of any outcomes.

The supermarket giant also said the transactions relating to the Home Timber and Hardware sale and Masters inventory clearance by GA Australia are proceeding as announced.

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