business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that there are likely to be more management changes at Coca-Cola Co. in the wake of the decision to bring back retired Coke executive E. Neville Isdell as the company’s new CEO, replacing the retiring Douglas Daft.

The most likely change: Steven J. Heyer, the COO/president who was the sole internal candidate for the job, not to mention the heir presumptive to Daft, is almost certainly out the door. The question, it seems, is when.

According to the WSJ, “if Mr. Heyer quits immediately, he would receive a smaller severance under the terms of his contract than if he is pushed aside. Under the 2001 agreement, he stands to walk away from Coke with millions of dollars if he departs as a result of a "significant diminution in such position, authority, duties or responsibilities," according to a securities filing. Under those circumstances, Mr. Heyer's contract calls for him to get three times his annual salary of $1 million, plus the average of his three most recent bonus payments, which totals $1.69 million, and other substantial compensation.”

The paper also reports that Heyer is frequently wooed by headhunters for top corporate posts, and that he is likely to become even more popular under the current circumstances. Analysts also seem to believe that Isdell probably will want to name his own COO to the job, and that Heyer could be offered a package to leave.
KC's View:
You have to figure that when Coke’s board hired Isdell, it was making the decision to let Heyer go, one way or the other.

On the upside, Coke also announced yesterday that it will feature actress Kate Beckinsdale in its new series of Diet Coke ads. Who, it seems to us, is worth any amount of money they’re paying her.