Former Diageo boss to head up £230m satellite firm

FORMER Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh was yesterday named as the new chairman of stock market listed satellite communications company Avanti.

Paul Walsh is to chair two companies it was revealed. Picture: PA
Paul Walsh is to chair two companies it was revealed. Picture: PA

Walsh, who is already in line to become chairman of catering group Compass next year, has been appointed deputy chairman of Avanti and will move up to the top seat in March.

Avanti’s current chairman, John Brackenbury, said Walsh’s “outstanding track record in growth markets and at the top of international corporate life” would be invaluable as the company moves to the next stage of development.

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Walsh joined the board of Avanti year and has been steadily investing in the company’s shares.

“Avanti has a high quality product with significant competitive advantages and an emerging premium brand,” he said. “It is beginning to monetise global data growth and I am delighted to be able to contribute to its success in these exciting high growth markets.”

In August it was revealed that Walsh is to remain a key figure within the Scotch whisky industry with an £80,000-a-year role funded by the spirits giant.

Walsh, who stepped down from the group Diageo board recently after overseeing dramatic growth as chief executive, will take on the unspecified role on behalf of Diageo for a period of up to five years.

The role was revealed in the company’s latest annual report which also showed his total pay and shares package in the last financial year earned him £14.8 million, up from £11.2m last year.

In September Avanti raised a $370m bond to refinance existing debt facilities.

Avanti’s maiden satellite launched in 2010 and was the first superfast broadband satellite launched in Europe. It is currently planning on launching its third satellite in partnership with the European Space Agency. Its latest annual results showed revenues increased by 65 per cent to £20.6m and the company became cashflow positive for the first time in June. Shares in Avanti closed up 2p at 215p yesterday.