Woolworths just scored a major victory in the Masters sale
Woolworths has emerged victorious in a legal battle against American hardware titans Lowe’s, their joint venture partner in the failed Masters Home Improvement chain.
On Tuesday, the Aussie retailer secured a stay of an application from Lowe’s to do away with the joint venture, Hydrox Holdings, used by the companies to run Masters. The American firm had initially taken Woolworths to court with the intention of appointing an independent liquidator to the JV.
Lowe’s application for a court-ordered wind-up threatened to derail the AU $750 million sale of 82 Masters shops and sites to a consortium of property investors. Lowe’s has accused Woolworths of ‘bullying’ it, stating that Woolworths terminated the JV without authority, withheld necessary information for the sales process and threatened Hydrox directors from Lowe’s with insolvency.
Judge Lindsay Foster ordered both parties to enter into arbitration in order to resolve their differences. Justice Foster further ordered the American firm to pay costs to their former partners.
"The substantive controversy between the parties in this proceeding are all matters which are capable of resolution by arbitration," Justice Foster said. "In truth there is no substantial public interest element in the determination of these parties' disputes."
Some sources believe that Lowe’s wanted more money than Woolies was willing to give them, potentially as much as $600 million. As it stands, Woolworths is offering to pay Lowe’s more than one-third of the $500 million expected from the sales. However, the result of the arbitration process could mean that the Australian company has to give Lowe’s a larger share of the proceeds.
Woolworths saw its share price rise more than two percent in lunchtime trading following the news of its legal victory.
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Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.