Management Turnover as Change Agent

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Coca-Cola CEO To Step Down in 2008

In a surprise announcement, Neville Isdell will step down as CEO of Coca-Cola KO (NYSE) July 1. He will be succeeded by the company's president and chief operating officer, Muhtar Kent, 55. Isdell will remain as chairman until Coke's annual meeting in April 2009. Isdell has served as CEO since June 2004, a relatively short time frame for the soft drink manufacturer.

According to Harry Weber in an Associated Press story,

John Sicher, an industry expert and editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, said naming Kent as Isdell's successor is a positive move for Coca-Cola.

"He understands the company and the system literally as well as anybody in the world and better than most," Sicher said.

Sicher added, however, that business challenges lie ahead for Coca-Cola and Kent after Isdell steps down as CEO, particularly in the company's key North American market.

Muhtar Kent has been groomed as Isdell's successor. In a story by Mary Jane Credeur and Duane D. Stanford for Bloomberg when referring to Kent the reporters quoted Walter Gerasimowicz, chief executive officer of Meditron Asset Management, which has about 2.5 percent of its $1 billion in assets in Coca-Cola shares,
"He has a great deal of experience as a bottler and in the international markets, and that's very important to Coca-Cola.''
It appears Coca-Cola has shown the corporate world how to do a CEO succession. We will just have to wait and see how it all works out.

For more on the change see:

Businessweek blog
International Herald Tribune
Atlanta Journal Constitution
The Wall Street Journal
Financial Times

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