Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent to step down May 1

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After a rocky eight-year run atop the world’s biggest beverage company, Muhtar Kent will step down as chief executive of Coca-Cola Co. and hand the task of reviving sales growth to his top deputy.

James Quincey, a 20-year Coca-Cola veteran who was appointed to the No. 2 job last year, will succeed Mr. Kent in May. Mr. Kent, who recently turned 64, will remain chairman of the $180 billion company, Coke said. The transition had been expected though the timing was uncertain.

Mr. Quincey, 51, who was born in Britain and spent most of his career outside the U.S., takes over at one of the most powerful global brands as it struggles with a consumer shift away from sugary sodas. Coke’s revenue has declined in each of the past three years. Despite a diversification push into juices, bottled waters and other beverages, soda still represents about 70% of company sales.

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