Close Menu

Diageo ‘on the hunt for new chairman’

Diageo has hired a leading headhunter to find a replacement for its veteran chairman Franz Humer, according to reports.

Dr Franz Humer is also chairman of pharma giant Roche (Photo: Roche)

The Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness producer has reportedly tasked JCA Group – a specialist boardroom headhunting firm – with finding a non-executive chairman to fill the role in the near future.

Dr Humer has sat at the head of Diageo since 2008, and is also the chairman of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche.

Sky News quotes a source close to the company saying that the appointment of headhunters is part of Diageo’s “careful long-term boardroom succession planning”.

Diageo has said that it will not be releasing a statement on the reports.

The potential search for a new chairman comes at a time of huge changes for the FTSE-100 drinks group.

Over the past quarter Diageo has been offloading nearly all of its wine interests, selling a vast proportion to Australian group Treasury Wine Estates including Blossom Hill, Piat d’Or and Sterling Vineyards.

Its Californian winery Chalone Vineyard is also up for sale, having been left out of the Treasury deal.

Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes, who has been under some pressure during a period of disappointing growth in the group, said in October that “Diageo’s strategy is to drive stronger, sustained performance through focus on our core portfolio.”

He said that selling off its wine arm “is another element of that strategy in action. Wine is no longer core to Diageo and this sale gives us greater focus,” he said.

Beer is also being shunted down Diageo’s list of priorities as it focuses on its flagship spirits portfolio. In October, the group announced it was offloading its brewing interests in Jamaica, Malaysia and Singapore, selling them to Dutch rival Heineken in a deal worth $780.5 million.

The deal included the Red Stripe Jamaican lager brand, which is growing in popularity in the UK.

The deal “continues our proactive approach to our portfolio, enhancing our focus on the core to achieve Diageo’s performance ambition”, Menezes said at the time.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No