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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat