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NEW YORK - Ending months of speculation, Coca-Cola Co. Wednesday tapped Steve Heyer to become the Atlanta beverage company's president and COO.
Heyer, 50, has been overseeing the company's Latin America, marketing and new business ventures, and other operations since joining Coca-Cola in April 2001.
The company's former president, Jack Stahl, left after a reorganization in March 2001, and the position has been vacant since then. Brian Dyson returned from retirement last year to fill the duties of vice chairman and COO.
A former executive at AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting, Heyer is one of the few outsiders to be named to Coca-Cola's top ranks.
Heyer's skills will be put to the test as he attempts to tackle the challenges Coke is facing, including difficult economic times and slowing demand in the U.S. for carbonated soft drinks.
At the end of the third quarter, Coke trimmed its earnings forecast for this year. On Friday, the company is scheduled to meet with investors and it is expected to provide a forecast for 2003.