Diageo chief Paul Walsh to step down, Menezes promoted

Posted on 7 May 2013

Diageo's chief executive, Paul Walsh, is to resign after 13-years at the drinks giant whose brands include Smirnoff and Guinness.

His position will be taken by Ivan Menezes, 53, Diageo’s chief operating officer, who will start the top job on July 1.

Mr Walsh will remain at the company until June 2014 to help Mr Menezes through the “transition process”, Diageo said in a statement this morning.

Paul Walsh is credited with building the company up into the world’s biggest producer of spirits and a major force in beer and wine, with a market capitalisation of about £35bn.

Diageo’s share price more than tripled under Mr Walsh’s stewardship, defined by organic growth and a string of acquisitions, where it has targeted emerging markets where growth is strong. This included the recent purchase of a stake in India’s biggest spirits maker, United Spirits.

Under Walsh, Diageo’s stated strategy is to make about half of its sales by 2015 in emerging markets.

Commentators were not surprised at the appointment of Mr Menezes, former president of Diageo’s North American operations. The drinks industry expected Menezes to be the likely successor when he was appointed to the role of chief operating officer last year, a specially created position.

Among other big brands Diageo owns Guinness, the world’s most popular stout, and 34% of Moët Hennessy, which owns brands including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Hennessy Cognac.