Diageo rejig fuels talk Walsh may head for exit

Diageo, the drinks giant behind Guinness and Smirnoff, has promoted Ivan Menezes to chief operating officer, fuelling speculation that its chief executive Paul Walsh may be edging towards the end of his Diageo career.

Mr Menezes, presently president of the company's North America operations and chairman of its Asia Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean businesses, will add Europe and Africa to his responsibilities.

The move echoes one made by Diageo back in 2000, when Mr Walsh was made COO, becoming chief executive nine months later. Mr Walsh turns 57 in May, and although he says he wants to stay for some years yet, Mr Menezes has become the top internal candidate to succeed him.

Mr Menezes is an American citizen who was born in India. His favourite drink is Johnnie Walker Black Label with club soda and ice.