Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent to step down next year

NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola said Friday that CEO Muhtar Kent will step down as CEO next year and be replaced by Chief Operating Officer James Quincey.

The world’s largest beverage maker is under pressure to grow as people around the world drink less soda, including its flagship Coke. The Atlanta company reported in October that its third-quarter profit fell 28 percent. The company also makes Sprite, Fanta and Dasani water.

Kent will leave the CEO job May 1 and will continue as chairman of the board. Kent has been CEO of the beverage maker for about 7 years.

Quincey, 51, has been with the Atlanta-based company for about 20 years. He was named president and chief operating officer last year.

Shares of The Coca-Cola Co. rose 1 percent to $41.53 before the stock market opened Friday.