Coca-Cola Co. announced a new operating structure on Monday, dividing its global business into three main units and giving two executives much larger roles.
The move was seen by some as a first step toward finding an eventual successor to Chief Executive Muhtar Kent, who has held the top job at the world's largest soft-drink maker since April 2009.
Coke said Steve Cahillane will be named president of Coca-Cola Americas, overseeing the company's North American and Latin American operations. Mr. Cahillane currently runs Coca-Cola Refreshments, the North American bottling operations acquired from Coca-Cola Enterprises.
Ahmet Bozer, president of the Eurasia and Africa Group, will run Coca-Cola International.
Irial Finan will continue as president of the Bottling Investing Group.
The changes will take effect on January 1, 2013.
John Sicher, editor of industry publication Beverage Digest, said giving Mr. Cahillane and Mr. Bozer much bigger jobs with more responsibility were "early steps by Kent on the management succession road."
Citing unnamed sources, Mr. Sicher said Mr. Kent will likely stay at the helm for many years to come.
"One might infer that part of the reason for creating these two new posts and the new structure is for Kent and the Coke board to see how Bozer and Cahillane perform in much bigger roles than they have had."