Coca-Cola appoints a new COO – and potential successor

According to The Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola has a CEO, and numerous executive vice presidents reporting to him – but no clear number two. The latter is a position the board has allegedly encouraged Kent to fill for some time.

“Discussions between the board and Kent had gotten intense and focused” in the last six to eight months, according to lead independent director Sam Nunn. “The board has had the view for a good while that Kent was stretched too thin in many respects and he needed operational assistance.” 

In its latest round of appointments, the company named president Quincey as its COO, and the move has caused many to speculate that he’s Kent’s chosen candidate. Quincey has been president of Coca-Cola’s European branch since 2013, accounting for 10.5 per cent of sales in 2014. Its operating revenues in Europe also rose by four per cent in 2014, compared to a company-wide drop of two per cent

Most recently, he played a major role in the merger of Coca-Cola’s German bottling business with European bottlers Coca-Cola Enterprises and Coca-Cola Iberian Partners into a combined bottler with more than $12bn (£7.68bn) in annual revenue. 

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“His wealth of experience across our global system, particularly in Europe and Latin America, will be a valuable asset as we continue to accelerate growth through our 2020 vision,” said Kent in a statement. “He is emblematic of the deep bench strength we have developed at Coca-Cola.”

Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog has suggested that the appointment will allow Kent to focus more on longer-term strategy across the entire Coca-Cola system verses day-to-day operations. Furthermore, Herzog believes he is being set up to become the next CEO.

It was further highlighted by The Wall Street Journal that the role of president and COO at Coca-Cola has historically been a significant one. It is a position that Kent held before becoming CEO – as well as Donald Keough, who was number two to CEO Roberto Goizueta during the 1980s and early 1990s. 

Kent claimed that “it’s very early days’’ and “inappropriate to speculate” on CEO succession but that he looked forward to working closely with Quincey. “I have every intention and commitment to make this a great success and partnership,” he added.

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