John McGrath finally handed over the reins to his protégé Paul Walsh today as Diageo's new management team was announced.

Walsh becomes President and CEO of the streamlined Diageo, which returned to its roots last week when it offloaded food group Pillsbury to focus on its beverage business. He will also be CEO of the combined drinks business. He is joined by Jack Keenan, formerly UDV's CEO, who becomes deputy CEO of the group and emphasises Keenan's pivotal role in revitalising the spirits division. With only one year left before he retires, Keenan's role will be to guide Walsh through what some have described as the "steep learning curve" of the wine and spirits industry.

To be fair, the Lancashire-born Walsh knows the beer market, having started his career at GrandMet's brewing division Watneys, Mann and Truman 18 years ago, where he worked as finance director with its MD, a certain John McGrath. The spirits market though is a different animal, particularly when you are coming to terms with the extensive and diverse UDV portfolio, but Keenan is the perfect mentor.

The man being groomed to fill the gap once Keenan does eventually leave is Stuart Fletcher. As just-drinks.com pointed out last week he was "one to watch" and has been made President of Key Markets for UDV/Guinness.

Fletcher orchestrated the merger of the two divisions and will be a key player during the integration process. He will also partner Keenan in any future acquisition talks, especially discussions with Seagram in the coming months.

Of the other divisions, John Lilly takes responsibility of Diageo's remaining interests in Pillsbury and ex-Guinness CEO, Colin Storm sees out his retirement as CEO of Burger King until its disposal.

Other key appointments are: Nick Rose - Finance Director; Paul Clinton - President of UDV/Guinness' US operations; Ian Meakins - President of UDV/Guinness' European Major Markets and Global Supply; and Ivan Menezes - President of Emerging Markets.

Also announced Managing Director GB - Don Goulding; Managing Director Spain - Paco Molina; Managing Director Ireland - Brian Duffy.

Elliot Lane