Walsh tipped for Compass amid chair reshuffles

Michael Bow
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DIAGEO chief executive Paul Walsh is being lined up as the new chairman of catering giant Compass, underscoring a flurry of senior changes at Britain’s top blue-chip companies

Walsh, who is set to stand down from the drinks maker at the end of the month after 13 years, is in pole position to take over from current Compass chair Sir Roy Gardner, who retires next year.

It comes amid a time of rich pickings for City headhunters, with the chair at Centrica, GlaxoSmithKline, Glencore, Lloyds Banking Group and WPP all currently up for grabs.

Walsh has overseen a spectacular rise at Diageo, known for brands like Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky, helping turn it into the biggest drinks maker in the world.

The Compass move, first reported by the Sunday Times, would give Walker oversight of the world’s biggest catering firms, which is noted for supplying catering to the Wimbledon tennis tournament and numerous glitzy events. A spokesman for Compass declined to comment on yesterday.

Meanwhile ex-BP executive John Manzoni, who was also chief executive of Talisman Energy until last year, was also linked with the vacant chair at FTSE listed miner Bumi yesterday, the entity co-founded by Nat Rothschild.