Diageo lines up successor for chief exec

Kasmira Jefford
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DIAGEO, the drinks company behind Guinness and Johnnie Walker, has promoted Ivan Menezes to a new role of chief operating officer, in a move that could see him eventually take over from chief executive Paul Walsh.

Menezes, who is president of Diageo’s North American business and chairman of its operations in Asia Pacific and Latin America, will take up his new role on 1 March.

He will lead Diageo’s operating business globally, adding Europe and Africa to his responsibilities and making him the front-runner for the top job.

Walsh is expected to remain in his role until the summer of 2014 to see his three-year drive to increase sales, margins and earnings through to completion. If the strategy were to progress well, he could leave earlier.

Charlie Mills at Diageo’s house broker Credit Suisse flagged Menezes’ “strong reputation” with the market and said he “would be viewed by many, we believe, as the natural successor to the current chief executive.”