New international chief position of company veteran

The Coca-Cola Co. named a company veteran on Tuesday to a newly created position of president of international operations as the world's largest beverage maker continued its strategy to centralize its leadership structure. Muhtar Kent, who has worked in the Coke system and the beverage industry for 28 years, will be responsible for all of the Atlanta-based company's operations outside of North America. The presidents of Coke's international regions will report to him.

The new position comes as Coke has been working for nearly a year to realign its global divisions into a more centralized structure in the hopes of improving execution. In March 2005, the company assigned Mary E. Minnick, president and chief operating officer of its Asia division, to lead a new corporate function overseeing the coordination of Coke's marketing, innovation and strategic growth segments. It said then that Coke's senior marketing and innovation officials would report to Minnick.

Kent first joined the company in Atlanta in 1978 and has held a variety of marketing and operations roles throughout his career. His new job takes effect Feb. 1. Coke shares fell 23 cents to $41.08 in morning trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, reports the AP. N.U.