Spotlight On... Paul Walsh, chief executive, Diageo

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The Independent Online

What's this I hear about the drinks boss Paul Walsh quitting?

Pure rumour and speculation. Some chatty folk in the Cityhave it that he is moving towards stepping down from Diageo in order to spend more time with his non-executive directorships.

Have they been at the turps?

Possibly, yes. The thinking goes that he's been chief executive of the company behind Johnnie Walker since 2000, so therefore must be about ready for a new challenge.

There was also an announcement yesterday that he is joining the board of the satellite firm Avanti Communications. That directorship goes on top of roles at Unilever and FedEx. The 56-year-old was previously also on the board of Centrica.

Is he under pressure at Diageo?

Far from it. By nearly all accounts he has done a fine job, expanding the business into markets across the globe. They'd be sorry to see him go, but all good things...

What might he do instead?

One long-standing rumour has him becoming chairman of Unilever. He's hinted in the past that he'd be up for it if the chance arose. The present Unilever chairman, Michael Treschow, has been in place since May 2007.

I seem to recall him being a nippy little fella with an eye for goal.

You're thinking of Paul Walsh the footballer, who played for Tottenham and Liverpool among other clubs. This Paul Walsh is regarded as equally competitive and equally blokeish. He has an estate in South Africa where he is said to enjoy hunting.

Does he drink?

In moderation, naturally. He likes Guinness and Johnnie Walker Black Label.

Can he afford to retire from full-time work?

Oh yes. He's been paid more than £6m in the last two years alone. And that's before you get to his substantial pension, his share options, his everything else.