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Two days before Diageo is set to report its mid-year earnings, Burger King Corp. named John Dasburg as its new chairman, CEO and president.

Can Dasburg take food company to new heights?
Formerly chairman and CEO of Northwest Airlines, Mr. Dasburg replaces Colin Storm, who has been acting CEO at Burger King since August 2000 after Dennis Malamatinas resigned.

Chosen for his combined prior hospitality and fast food experience and public company stewardship, Mr. Dasburg will pilot the partial IPO and eventual separation of Burger King from Diageo, according to Rob Doughty, VP-public relations and communications of Burger King.

"In accepting the challenge to lead Burger King, I will fulfill a lifelong ambition to run a restaurant business," he said in a statement. "This business faces real challenges in satisfying consumers' ever increasing demands for improved products and services at affordable prices, and in re-igniting the enthusiasm and collaboration essential in a franchise community."

Prior to joining Northwest Airlines in 1989, Mr. Dasburg was with Marriott for a decade as CFO and as president of the lodging division, which included running its Roy Rogers and Big Boy restaurant units.

A native of Miami, where the company is based, Mr. Dasburg will join Burger King by April 1. Until then, he will split his time between the two companies.

Mr. Dasburg, credited with turning the once-flagging carrier into the fourth-largest airline, leaves Northwest as a three-week strike deadline by its mechanics approaches. His 1992 11th-hour save from financial and labor collapse marked the airline's turnaround toward financial stability.

Diageo is counting on Mr. Dasburg to do the same for its already delayed partial float of Burger King stock and eventual spinoff as the company concentrates on the spirits business. Analysts estimate timing of the IPO could stretch into next year.

"Currently, the financial markets are not really conducive to an IPO," Mr. Walsh told news service Reuters. Despite weak sales at Burger King, analysts predict robust sales growth in Diageo's top spirits brands will push pre-tax profits up by 10%.

Copyright February 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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