Paul Walsh

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Alcohol badge.jpg This article is part of the Spinwatch public health oriented Alcohol Portal project.
Dr Paul Walsh is the former chief executive of Diageo, who in June 2013 retired after 13 years at the helm of the world's largest alcohol company.

Walsh is now incoming chairman of contract caterer Compass Group, but 'will be paid £80,000 a year to continue to represent his former employer in the Scotch whisky industry after receiving almost £15m in cash and long-term bonuses from the company in its most recent financial year'. [1]



Walsh was ranked the second most powerful influence over what the world will be drinking in 2008 by The Drinks Business, an online trade magazine. [2] Diageo made sales of £7.48 billion in 2007, more than 60 per cent more than its nearest rival. The company outsells the competition in every emerging market except for China, and Walsh made no secret of his determination to catch up with Pernod Ricard in this key territory.

He was listed by the Guardian as ranking 16th in the top 20 earners in Britain in 2003, with a salary of £3,457,909. [3] He joined Grand Metropolitan in 1982 going on to become CEO of the Pillsbury Company in 1992. He was appointed to the Diageo Board in 1997 and became its CEO in 2000.

Paul Walsh's view on business in the UK: 'The UK's enterprise culture needs strengthening. We need those who seek to legislate, regulate, or otherwise influence opinion to see business as an inherently good thing, creating prosperity and the foundation on which the institutions of civil society can flourish. We need to change the culture of this country so that enterprise is celebrated.'[4]

In January 2012 Paul Walsh joined other political and business leaders to attend meetings at the World Economic Forum's Davos conference. [5]

Tax avoidance

The Guardian reported:

'While Walsh headed up Diageo, despite average annual profits of almost £2bn, its accounts disclosed £43m a year (little more than 2% of its profits) in average UK corporation tax charges. Diageo has said that it moved a number of its brands to the Netherlands in 1998 and its operations have been “thoroughly reviewed” by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Walsh has criticised tax laws that he says allows others not to pay their fair share.'[6]

Letter to the Telegraph

On 1 April 2015 Walsh was one of 103 business leaders who wrote to the Telegraph praising the British Conservative Party's economic policies and claiming a Labour government would 'threaten jobs and deter investment' in the UK.[7]

CBI conflict of interest

Walsh was considered to be the preferred candidate to take over the presidency of the politically neutral Confederation of British Industry but this was thrown into doubt after he signed the Telegraph pro-Conservative letter from business leaders.[8]

Helping British businesses

In June 2013 Walsh was announced by David Cameron as one of six business leaders on the Business-led taskforce on EU regulation who will identify the European rules and regulations that need abolition or reform to help British Businesses grow. The other five leaders were: Ian Cheshire (CEO Kingfisher), Glenn Cooper (president ATG Access), Dale Murray (non-executive director BIS), Marc Bolland (chief executive Marks & Spencers) and Louise Makin (CEO BTG).[9][10] The group reported in September 2013 and reported back one year on in November 2014.

CVC Capital confusion

In late 2014 it was announced that Walsh had been invited by CVC Capital, Formula one's largest shareholder, to become a non-executive director of the Formula One Group. Walsh had originally been in talks to be chairman of the CVC Capital. However, in June 2015 it was announced Walsh had not in fact taken up this position on the board and was not expected to do so.[8]


Former Directorships

Political donations

Recorded by the Electoral Commission:[17]

Date Name of donor Amount Donated to Subsidiary (parties only)
17/02/2010 Paul S Walsh £10,000.00 Conservative Party Central party


  1. Jill Treanor, Diageo paid former boss £15m in his final year,, Monday 12 August 2013 22.22 BST, acc same day
  2. The Drinks Business Website DB Top 50: The Influencers Last accessed December 4th 2007
  3. Guardian press release, 26.08.04, Top Earners viewed 24.01.05
  4. Paul Walsh, Diageo CEO, 28.06.04, The London Business School Summit on Global Leadership, - viewed 18.01.05
  5. Channel 4 News, 25th January 2012
  6. The Tory 100: captains of industry, party donors (and a few tax avoiders) Guardian, 1 April 2015, accessed 7 April 2015.
  7. Peter Dominiczak, 100 business chiefs: Labour threatens Britain's recovery, Telegraph, 7 April 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mark Kleinman Mystery Over Ex-Diageo CEO As F1 Role Stalls Sky News, 2 June 2015, accessed 3 June 2015.
  9. ATG Access ATG Access' MD at the helm of an EU regulation review, accessed 8 April 2015.
  10. Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Business taskforce asks companies to help target EU red tape Gov.UK, 11 July 2013, accessed 8 April 2015.
  11. Centrica Website About Us accessed 3rd June 2008
  12. Scotch Whisky Association, New Chairman for Scotch Whisky as exports break records 2nd December Press Release, accessed 5th December 2011
  13. FAME Financial Database Scotch Whisky Association Last Accessed 2nd July 2007 (subscription required)
  14. Henley Management Centre, About Us accessed 24/04/05
  15. FAME Financial Database Scotch Whisky Association Last Accessed 2nd July 2007 (subscription required)
  16. Federal Express Website, UK Contacts accessed 24/04/05
  17. Electoral Commission, Donation Search, accessed 9 April 2015
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