Coca-Cola and CCE announce merger plans

The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, appointed Brian P. Kelley, current president and general manager of still beverages and supply chain for Coca-Cola North America, to oversee its merger with Coca-Cola Enterprises’ (CCE) North American operations. Kelley will take the title of president of North America Business Integration.

The two companies announced earlier this month that they entered into a definitive agreement enabling Coca-Cola to acquire CCE’s North American bottling business and for CCE to acquire Coca-Cola’s bottling operations in Norway and Sweden. CCE also can acquire Coca-Cola’s stake in its German bottler. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010, pending regulatory and CCE shareholder approval, the company said.

Kelley will assemble a team of Coca-Cola and CCE executives to develop a plan to integrate CCE North America, Coca-Cola North America (CCNA) Foodservice, the Minute-Maid/Odwalla Juice businesses and CCNA Supply Chain Operations, the company said.

Once the companies merge, they will be collectively called Coca-Cola Refreshments USA Inc. (CCR), the company said. The CCR president and chief executive officer, who will report directly to The Coca-Cola Co. chairman and chief executive officer, will be announced later.

“Upon completion of our acquisition of CCE North America, we will create a North American business system that will best serve the unique needs of our flagship market and usher in a new era of winning for us and all of our partners,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Co., in a statement.

Kelley’s team also will construct a plan to reshape Coca-Cola’s remaining North America business components, including consumer marketing plus franchise leadership for its independent bottlers, the company said.

Throughout the process, Kelley will report to a steering committee chaired by Kent and also includes Steve Cahillane, president of CCE North America; Alex Cummings, chief administrative officer of The Coca-Cola Co.; Sandy Douglas, president of CCNA; Gary Fayard, chief financial officer of The Coca-Cola Co.; Irial Finan, president of The Coca-Cola Co.’s bottling investment group; and Clyde Tuggle, senior vice president of The Coca-Cola Co.’s global public affairs and communications division, the company said.

The committee will give the integration team direction, approve staffing of the team, monitor progress and approve major decisions, the company said.

“An integration of this magnitude requires a very thoughtful, planned and disciplined approach,” Kent said, in a statement.

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