Coca-Cola CEO Muthar Kent To Step Down After 8 Years

A week after Starbucks announced the impending departure of CEO Howard Schultz from the company’s top spot, another beverage behemoth is making changes to its executive offices: Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent (pictured on the right) will step down from his position in May 2017. 

The Coca-Cola Company announced the change on Friday, noting that president and Chief Operating Officer James Quincey will take over as top executive starting May 1.

Kent, who has been CEO for eight years, won’t exactly be abandoning the mothership, however, as the company says he will continue to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

The company says Quincey, who has been with Coca-Cola for 20 years, will eventually be nominated as a director by the Board next year.

Quincey was named as president and COO of the company in August 2015. Before that he served as president for the company’s Europe Group, president of the Northwest Europe and Nordics Business Unit, and president of the company’s Mexico division.

Under Kent’s tenure Coca-Cola has faced its share of controversy. Last year, the company came under fire for funding — to the tune of $1 million — an anti-obesity group that downplayed the role of sugary drinks in the current obesity epidemic.

The Global Energy Balance Network, which stressed the importance of proper diet and exercise in fighting obesity, came out of nowhere in recent years thanks to purportedly no-strings-attached funding from Coca-Cola. However, the group’s motives were questioned when its leadership made public statements that seemed to directly echo beverage industry talking points, including making claims that it was the media, not science, that had linked obesity to high-calorie foods.

At the time Kent acknowledged that maybe there could have been more transparency about this whole thing. Meanwhile, the exec who sent many of the above-referenced e-mails has tendered her retirement.