Diageo‘s outgoing CEO Sir Ivan Menezes has died aged 63 following a short illness.

The Indian-born American/British businessman announced his retirement in March, following a ten-year stint as Diageo CEO.

“It is with great sadness that Diageo announces that Sir Ivan Menezes has passed away following a brief illness, with his family at his side,” a statement from Diageo on Wednesday (7 June) said.

Menezes was due to retire as Diageo CEO on 30 June.

The news comes just two days after the Johnnie Walker maker announced its COO Debra Crew – who had been due to take over from Menezes in July – was to assume the role early.

The statement on Monday (5 June) had said Menezes was in hospital recovering after receiving treatment for medical conditions including a stomach ulcer.

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Javier Ferrán, Diageo chairman, described the death of Menezes as “an incredibly sad day”.

He said: “Ivan was there at the creation of Diageo and over 25 years, shaped Diageo to become one of the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer companies. I saw first-hand his steadfast commitment to our people and to creating a culture that enabled everyone to thrive. He invested his time and energy in people at every level of the company and saw potential that others may have overlooked. This is one of many reasons why he was beloved by our employees, past and present.

“Ivan’s energy and his commitment to diversity created a truly inclusive business and enabled Diageo to have a positive impact on the communities we serve. His passion for our brands was second to none and in his heart, he remained the Johnnie Walker marketer from his early days. The desire to build the world’s best brands never left him.

“We are truly privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside such a thoughtful and passionate colleague and friend – a true gentleman. He has built an extraordinary legacy.”

Born in July 1959, in Pune, India, Menezes joined Diageo when it was founded in 1997, having been strategy director at Guinness plc. On Diageo’s creation, he became group integration director.

Over a 25 year career with the Smirnoff brand owner, Menezes held many senior roles including COO, president of Diageo North America and chairman of Diageo Asia Pacific.

He was appointed to the board of Diageo as an executive director in July 2012 and had served as CEO since July 2013.

In January 2023, Menezes received a Knighthood for services to business and equality in King Charles’s 2023 New Year Honours list.

He leaves behind his wife, Shibani, and his two children, Nikhil and Rohini.