Guinness' new name gets shareholder thumbs down

The US competition authorities are expected to sanction the pounds 23bn merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan next week as long as the group sells Dewar's whisky and several other smaller spirits brands.

The news came as shareholders in the two UK drinks groups overwhelmingly backed the merger but not without vociferous complaints about its new name. Andrew Yates reports.

"[The name] Diageo is meant to explain giving pleasure every day everywhere. That could apply to a lot of things. Sexual intercourse for instance. Maybe we should rename the group that," said one disgruntled Guinness shareholder yesterday. "This new name is almost unpronounceable. When I first heard it I thought it was pronounced `Dire go'. That sounds like a medicine to prevent some sort of unmentionable stomach disease," he added.

There was widespread condemnation of the Diageo name at the Guinness meeting yesterday afternoon to agree its merger with Grand Metropolitan. At an earlier meeting of GrandMet shareholders there was similar dismay at the choice of the new name.

One GrandMet shareholder said: "When I first heard the name I thought it was pronounced Die Ageo, which leads me to think of food poisoning. Why not have a good old British name instead of one that will be mispronounced around the world."

Tony Greener, Guinness' chairman, faced an uphill battle to convince the increasingly irate shareholders. "You will still be able to buy Guinness, my favourite pint." A rowdy crowd was having none of it. After the Guinness board showed a video designed to explain Diageo it was met with shouts of ``rubbish''. Shareholders expressed concerns about the cost of finding a new name. When Mr Greener revealed that the bill was in the region of pounds 250,000, one shareholder said: "That's childish. With all the brains on the board surely you could have easily invented a silly name like Diageo."

Not that the alternatives to Diageo were much better. The Independent can reveal some of the other names that Guinness and GrandMet considered for their new venture. It was close to choosing Carista, perhaps designed to conjure up images of a charismatic new food and drinks group. However, it had to give up the idea after it found that the name was already registered in several other countries around the world. It also rejected `Cordica' because it sounded too much like the name of Cordiant, the advertising agency.

However, the obvious distaste shown for Diageo the 400 or so Guinness shareholders who attended the meeting turned out to be nothing more than a side show. Mr Greener revealed that 97 per cent of shareholders who voted, backed the name change.

One Guinness shareholder raised concerns about the pounds 700,000 annual salary Mr Greener received on top of bonuses such as subsidised lunches. "Why don't you and the board limit your greed so we get more money," he said.

City sources also confirmed yesterday that the creation of Diageo was due to receive the green light from the US Federal Trade Commission next week. However, the group is expected to have to give up Dewar's, North America's leading whisky brand and several other spirits. Diageo shares will start trading on 17 December.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee