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Boss of Guinness and Johnnie Walker maker handed knighthood

The boss of the company behind Guinness and Johnnie Walker will be able to raise a glass as he kicks off the new year with a knighthood and more than £6 million pay package.

Ivan Menezes has become a knight in the New Years Honours for services to business and equality.

The businessman has been head of Diageo since 2013, having worked his way up the ranks at the drinks giant.

He has held several positions at the business, starting with Guinness and then moving to leadership positions for Diageo in Latin America, Asia and North America.

He was the group’s chief operating officer before being promoted to the top job nearly a decade ago.

Sir Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, at its headquarters in Edinburgh
Sir Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, at its headquarters in Edinburgh (PA)

Before joining Diageo in 1997, Sir Ivan worked at Nestle, Booz Allen Hamilton and Whirlpool.

The honour tops off a good year for Sir Ivan, who could not be reached for comment about his knighthood.

In the face of some loud opposition, he was this year handed a pay package worth £7.9 million – a rise of £2 million compared to 2021.

Shareholder advisory group PIRC said the chief executive is overpaid and investors should vote against the pay packet.

Sir Ivan earned nearly 70 times as much as the average employee, PIRC said.

Despite this, only a little over 5% of the votes at Diageo’s annual meeting in October were cast against the pay deal.

Sir Ivan, 63, was born in India and is the brother of Victor Menezes, a former Citibank senior vice-chairman.