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Market bids farewell to an old name as Diageo makes debut

One of the oldest names on the stock market disappeared yesterday as shares in Diageo, the drinks giant formed by the merger of Grand Metropolitan and Guinness, started trading. The conclusion of the deal saw the famous Guinness name erased from market screens after 111 years and ended GrandMet's near 40-year history as a quoted company.

Diageo started life as the seventh largest quoted company in the country, valued at pounds 23bn, bigger than Barclays but just behind BT. However, the new company got off to a disappointing start with the shares slipping 1.5p to 590p.

John McGrath, GrandMet's former chief executive and Diageo's chief executive, said: "This is the end of a long journey. It is sad day. On the other hand it is the start of a new journey and it is very exciting."

Diageo's first priority will be to integrate United Distillers and IDV, the spirits businesses of Guinness and GrandMet, which will lead to a wave of redundancies. Analysts expect many more job losses than the 2,000 Diageo has said will definitely go. "Until now UD and IDV have not been allowed to talk to each other. We will move like hell to sort out the businesses," said Mr McGrath.