James Quincey was elected today as the 14th chairman of The Coca-Cola Company, succeeding Muhtar Kent, who plans to retire in April after a Coca-Cola system career that started in 1978.
Quincey, who currently serves as president and CEO, will become chairman following the company’s annual meeting in April 2019. He will then serve as chairman and CEO. As previously announced, Brian Smith will become president and chief operating officer of the company on Jan. 1, 2019.
Kent will remain as the company’s chairman through the 2019 annual meeting, where he will not stand for reelection as a director. Kent served as both chairman and CEO from 2009 until 2017 and continued as chairman after Quincey became CEO.
The company also announced that Sam Nunn will not stand for reelection at the 2019 annual meeting, closing a 22-year tenure as a Coca-Cola director, including the last five years as lead independent director. Nunn, a former U.S. senator who represented the state of Georgia from 1972 to 1996, has served as a Coca-Cola board member through a period of remarkable changes, including the successful transition of the CEO position from Kent to Quincey in May 2017 and the rapid diversification of the company’s beverage portfolio. The board has elected Maria Elena “Mel” Lagomasino as Nunn’s successor as lead independent director. Lagomasino joined the Coca-Cola board in 2008.
The new roles for Quincey and Lagomasino are contingent on their reelections as directors at the 2019 annual meeting.
Nunn’s wide-ranging career includes serving as co-chairman and former CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. He was also a director of Chevron Corp., Dell Inc., General Electric Co. and Scientific Atlanta. Lagomasino is CEO and managing partner of WE Family Offices, a global family office serving high-net-worth families. She has held a variety of business leadership roles. She serves on the board of The Walt Disney Co. and previously was a director of Avon Products Inc.
As lead independent director, Lagomasino’s duties will include executing all matters of the board as outlined in the company’s corporate governance guidelines. These include leading the board’s annual evaluation of the chair and CEO; having the authority to call meetings of independent directors; approving board agendas; and presiding over meetings of independent directors and non-employee directors.
“Sam has had a remarkable career and has served as a valued voice on our board of directors,” Kent said. “As he steps down, I can’t think of a better person to succeed him than Mel.”