Woolworths confirms sale talks

<p>Woolworth&#39;s has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions regarding a possible offer for the retail business. The statement, issued by the group, came after the Times reported that the troubled chain, which also owns Bertrams and EUK, is in talks to sell its high street business to restructuring specialist Hilco for &pound;1.</p><p>Woolies said there could be &quot;no assurance that any offer will be forthcoming&quot;. It did not state what would happen to its remaining businesses. Woolies shares were briefly suspended this morning as a result of the speculation, but they have now been reinstated. </p><p>Any deal would require the approval of the troubled chain&rsquo;s banking syndicate, which recently appointed restructuring advisers from Deloitte to guide it on further loan negotiations with Woolworths.</p><p>According to the newspaper, the talks are likely to hinge on how much of Woolworth&rsquo;s debt Hilco, a global turnaround specialist, is willing to take on. Negotiations over the responsibility for the &pound;100m pension fund deficit, which Hilco will not want to assume, will also be difficult.</p><p>But it adds that a solvent demerger of its underperforming retail arm and its media and distribution businesses - 2entertain, the DVD publisher, and EUK, a specialist distribution business - would be a huge victory for a company than many believed would not survive Christmas.&nbsp; </p><p>Last week, it was reported that <a href="../news/70824-euk-asking-customers-for-cash-upfront-.html" target="_blank">Woolworths&#39; EUK business had been forced to ask customers for cash upfront</a>, and earlier this week, <a href="../news/70852-bbc-could-buy-woolies-subsidiary.html" target="_blank">BBC Worldwide said it was prepared to buy Woolworths out of their 2Entertain joint venture</a>.</p>