In a move some say has implications for succession at the top of Coca-Cola, the company announced Monday that it is fine-tuning operations by creating three distinct leaders who will report to Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent.
The Atlanta-based company will condense the numerous operating groups that report to Kent to three, beginning Jan. 1.
Operations in the newly created Americas group will fall under Steve Cahillane. Ahmet Bozer will become president of Coca-Cola International, and Irial Finan will continue as president of Bottling Investments Group, which oversees the company-owned bottling operations outside of North America.
"The creation of these two big new jobs -- presidents of Coca-Cola Americas and Coca-Cola International -- are early steps by Kent on the management succession road," said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest, an industry publication. "Both Bozer and Cahillane are viewed as talented executives and leaders. At this point, neither is seen as having an edge over the other in terms of acquiring any additional future responsibility beyond these new jobs."
Sicher said he could see Kent, who has been the soft drink giant's leader for three years, serving as CEO for some time.
"It would not surprise me to see him running the company in 2020," he said.
The company said it could announce related changes in the future, but that the current structure would remain intact until then.
"With a solid foundation and momentum in our business, now is the time to take the next step in our evolution," Kent said Monday in an email message to Coca-Cola employees. "By consolidating leadership of our global operations under two large, but similar sized geographic regions and BIG, we will streamline reporting lines, intensify our focus on key markets and create a structure that leverages synergies and gives us flexibility to strategically adjust our business within those geographies in the future."
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