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News > Companies
Coke CEO Ivester resigns
December 6, 1999: 3:25 p.m. ET

Douglas Daft, Coke’s Africa-Asia chief, seen as successor in wake of scare
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Coca-Cola Co. Chairman and Chief Executive M. Douglas Ivester surprised Wall Street Monday by announcing he will resign next April, ending a brief tenure dampened by a contamination scare in Europe, international market tremors and stock price disappointment.
    The board of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft drink company, expects to name Douglas Daft, who took the helm of the company’s Africa, Middle East and Far East division just two months ago, as Ivester’s successor.
    Daft, a 30-year Coke veteran and an Australia native, was immediately named chief operating officer and president. Analysts cited Daft’s focus on international markets, which make up the core of Coke’s business, as a reason for his promotion.
    Shares of Coca-Cola, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones industrial average, fell 4-9/16 to 63-3/4 at about 2:30 p.m. ET Monday. 
    Coke has been under considerable pressure in recent months following a contamination scare in Europe and the French government’s rejection of  its $735 million purchase of Pernod-Ricard’s Orangina soft drink division.
    Ivester took the Coke helm in October 1997 after Roberto Goizueta, its highly praised and longtime CEO, died of lung cancer. Shortly thereafter Coke, one of the nation’s most global companies, faced an international market crisis that cut into sales.
    Then, just as key world markets were starting to turn around, the contamination scare struck, first in Belgium then elsewhere in Europe. The episode was perhaps the worst in Coke’s history, taking its  toll on Ivester’s tenure and tarnishing what is one of the world’s most-recognized brand names.
    . After reflection and thought, I have concluded that it is time for me to move on to the next stage of my life, Ivester said in a statement "During the past two years, against the backdrop of an unprecedented downturn in the global economy, we have put into place systems necessary to redesign the organization going forward”.
    Caroline Levy, an analyst with Schroder & Co., said Ivester’s resignation was surprising just for its ‘suddenness’.
    "I was surprised at the timing at the quick board meeting this weekend,” she said, adding however, "he’s been under pressure for the last several years,  his CEO-ship has been difficult”
    Asked whether she believes Ivester was forced out, Levy said, "That’s certainly not the party line, but he was definitely under pressure”
    
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    Levy has an ‘outperform’ rating on Coke stock and said she raised her 12-month target price on the shares Monday morning to $76 from $70.
    The stock currently is down about 5 percent this year. Since Ivester took over as CEO Oct. 23, 1997, the stock has risen less than 12 percent.
    Daft, 56, has been with Coke for 30 years and took over as CEO the company’s Asia and Africa units, as well as its Schweppes Beverages unit, in October as part of the company’s wide restructuring of its top ranks. Back to top

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