Diageo Hires Xerox Finance Chief Kathryn Mikells as Next CFO

  • Mikells was previously head of finance at United Airlines
  • New CFO replaces Mahlan, who took over North American business

Diageo Plc, the world’s biggest distiller, said Xerox Corp.’s Kathryn Mikells will become its new chief financial officer, filling a vacancy that ensued when the company shifted then-CFO Deirdre Mahlan to run its troubled North American business earlier this year.

Mikells, 50, has been Xerox’s finance chief since May 2013, and was previously head of finance at United Airlines, which is now part of United Continental Holdings Inc. She will join Diageo Nov. 9, the London-based company said in a statement Monday. Mikells will also replace Mahlan on Diageo’s board of directors.

Diageo has forecast a return to sales growth after a two-year slump brought on by weakening emerging markets and flat sales in key countries like the U.S., where drinkers have flocked to brown spirits like bourbon and rye at the expense of Diageo’s Smirnoff vodka. In July Diageo said it had received an information request from the Securities and Exchange Commission about its distribution practices in the U.S.

“Xerox is a prestigious company, it can be a springboard to other things," James Kelleher, an analyst with Argus Research, said by phone. “She was well regarded on the street.”

Before joining United in 1994, Mikells worked in the corporate finance group of General Electric Co.’s GE Capital unit.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE