Fairfax media reported earlier this week that several global private equity companies, including Blackstone and TPG, were in talks with Woolworths over the potential sale.

Blackstone refused to comment on the rumours except stating that it was “speculation” at this stage.

In the weeks following the announcement industry talk has turned to the future of the Masters’ sites and the jobs of more than 7000 staff members nation-wide.

The Home Timber and Hardware (HTH) chain, which comes under the Woolworths Home Improvement venture, said in a statement that it is “business as usual” for their “˜hybrid’ business model.

HTH incorporates 44 company-owned sites and distribution centres, and services the wholesale needs of over 350 independently owned and operated HTH and Thrifty-Link branded stores.

Following Woolworth’s announcement last month the company released a statement on the Masters website that addressed the short-term future of the 63 home improvement stores: “The process will take several months and the business will continue to trade normally through this period.”

Woolworths originally stated that it will exercise its call option over the 33.3 per cent interest in Hydrox Holdings Pty Ltd, which operates both Masters and Home Timber & Hardware, under the joint venture agreement. Lowe’s has elected to exercise its “˜put’ option in the agreement.

“Whilst we will move as quickly as possible, the put and call options process will take at least two months to complete, and following this a potential sale process or other exit process will take additional time,” said Gordon Cairns, Woolworths Chairman, during the original announcement.

Woolworths continues to negotiate with Lowes and an independent expert regarding the valuation process.

TimberTrader News will continue to follow this story closely over the coming months.
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