SIR Ivan Menezes, long-standing chief executive of Diageo, has died.

The Scotch whisky giant announced this morning that Sir Ivan had passed away following a brief illness, with his family by his side. He was 63.

The news comes two days after the company said Sir Ivan, who led Diageo for more than a decade and spent more than 25 years with the Johnnie Walker distiller, had suffered a “significant setback” following emergency surgery on a stomach ulcer. He is survived by his wife Shibani and two children, Nikhil and Rohini.

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Diageo chairman Javier Ferran said: “This is an incredibly sad day. Ivan was undoubtedly one of the finest leaders of his generation.

“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.

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“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. 

"Ivan leaves behind many friends and a beloved family, and our thoughts are particularly with his wife, Shibani and his two children, Nikhil and Rohini. On behalf of the board, executive committee and all our employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to them.”

Sir Ivan was born in Pune, India, and held UK and US citizenship, and overseas citizenship for India. He joined Diageo at its creation in 1997, following the merger of Guinness plc and Grand Metropolitan plc, having previously been a strategy director for Guinness, and went on to hold a number of senior positions, including chief operating officer, president of Diageo North America, chairman of Diageo Asia Pacific, and chairman of Diageo Latin America and Caribbean.

He became chief executive of the company on July 2013 and went on to become one of the longest-serving bosses on the FTSE 100.

Diageo announced on Monday that Debra Crew, who had been due to succeed Sir Ivan as chief executive of Diageo on July 1, had been appointed to the role on an interim basis with immediate effect.