(AP) ATLANTA - The Coca-Cola Co. (KO) is streamlining its business and raising the profiles of two key executives, a move that could better position them to eventually succeed CEO Muhtar Kent.
Starting next year, the world's largest beverage company says its business will be built around three units: Coca-Cola Americas, Coca-Cola International and a bottling division, which will oversee the company's bottling operations outside North America.
Currently, the heads of various regions, such as North America, Latin America, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, report directly to Kent. The new structure splits global operations about evenly; roughly half of Coca-Cola's sales volume comes from the Americas, while the rest comes from other parts of the world.
The Atlanta-based company said Monday that Steve Cahillane, 47, will head the new Coca-Cola Americas unit, which will include Latin America. He currently heads Coca-Cola Refreshments in North America, a position he was named to in 2010.
The new Coca-Cola International unit will be headed by Ahmet Bozer, 52. Bozer, who joined the company in 1990 as financial control manager, currently oversees the region encompassing Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Irial Finan, 55, will continue as president of the bottling unit, Bottling Investments Group.
John Sicher, editor of the closely watched industry tracker Beverage Digest, said in a note to subscribers that the new structure could be a way for Kent and board to see how Bozer and Cahillane perform on a bigger stage.
Sicher noted that both are seen as talented and that neither is seen as having an edge over the other. He added that Kent will likely remain CEO for many more years.
In a statement, Coca-Cola said it would inappropriate to speculate on CEO succession.
The new structure takes effect Jan. 1. Coca-Cola shares rose 69 cents to $80.70 in morning trading after rising to a 52-week high of $80.79 earlier in the session.