Death announced

Diageo CEO Menezes, 63, dies after short illness

Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes
Ivan Menezes during a visit to Edinburgh (pic: Terry Murden)

Diageo, owner of Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness, has announced that its chief executive Ivan Menezes has died aged 63, following a brief illness.

CEO-designate Debra Crew was installed as interim on Monday after Mr Menezes undertook emergency medical treatment.

Mr Menezes, a British-American national, who was born in the Indian city of Pune, was set to retire at the end of this month.

He was in the hospital receiving treatment for conditions including a stomach ulcer, the company said in a statement on Monday.

He joined the company after its formation through the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan in 1997. Sales have surged under his leadership.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould paid tribute to Mr Menezes.

“Sir Ivan Menezes will be remembered for transforming Diageo’s fortunes and making it the powerhouse it is today in the spirit sector. He was greatly admired by the business community and by investors.

“In his 10 years as chief executive, he focused on high-end brands, recognising that consumer tastes were evolving and that people were prepared to pay a premium price for a quality product.

“Six years ago, he struck a deal to pay $1 billion for tequila brand Casamigos, which at the time raised eyebrows due to the price but has since proved to be a resounding success for the business. It showed that Diageo was able to move with the times, while also keeping its legacy brands including Guinness relevant in the modern world.

“Sir Ivan paid a lot of attention to culture within the business, while also making sure Diageo was a leader in the fields of sustainability, inclusivity and diversity.

“A succession plan was already in motion before Sir Ivan became unwell, meaning there is no uncertainty over who will run the business. However, news of his death is a shock and the world of business will be in mourning for one of the most highly respected FTSE 100 leaders.”

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