When Coca-Cola announced on Sept. 8 that Chairman and CEO Roberto Goizueta was being treated for a lung tumor, investors began giving heir apparent Douglas Ivester a closer look. Coke's board wants Goizueta, 65, to hold the CEO slot indefinitely past his retirement. But industry observers predicted when Ivester was named president in 1994 that he would eventually get the nod.
Ivester, 50, is a veteran. The former accountant crunched numbers as Coke's chief financial officer, ran the European division, and headed U.S. operations beginning in 1990. But he really made his mark when he created the "49% solution" in 1986. Coke consolidated dozens of independent bottlers and took a 49% stake in the new outfit, giving Coke control while reducing its debt. Coke turned this into a corporate strategy, creating megabottlers around the world. Says one large bottler: "Coke won't miss a beat with Ivester at the helm."