Woolworths Holdings' newly appointed non-executive chairman Derek "Buddy" Hawton' is still fighting a US$75m international court battle which is expected to spill over from New York to London.

Hawton takes over on 22 November 2003 from Colin Hall, who retires after 20 years service at the company's AGM the day before.

The new chairman has a wealth of domestic and international experience in various fields of business, from insurance through to the leisure industry where he is chairman of Kersaf Investments, a hotel and gaming company.

Kersaf is involved in a legal wrangle involving his former partner Sol Kerzner, who now operates Kerzner International, formerly known as Sun International. The dispute over territorial rights after a split in the company which dates back to the late 1990s was dismissed in New York this week, but Kerzner International is set to lodge papers in London.