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Coca-Cola Veteran Directors Keough and Williams to Retir

Coca-Cola Co. Director Don Keough, who joined the soda maker in 1960 and helped oversee its international expansion, will retire from the board this year.

Keough, 86, and fellow longtime Coke Director Jimmy Williams, 79, will not stand for re-election to the board in April, the Atlanta-based company said today in a statement. Williams, a former chairman and chief executive officer of SunTrust Banks Inc., has served as a director since 1979.

“It’s hard to imagine Coca-Cola without Don and Jimmy,” Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent said in the statement. “Many of our current Coca-Cola leaders learned this business under Don, and I have personally benefited from his guidance, mentorship and friendship for more than 30 years.”

After joining Coca-Cola by way of an acquisition, Keough ran the company’s food division, served as chairman of its largest bottler and of its Columbia Pictures division. Eventually he was named chief operating officer and helped oversee the company’s short-lived introduction of New Coke.

New Coke, introduced in 1985 after the company changed the formula for its namesake drink, was met by consumer protest. The company returned to its original recipe a few months later.

Keough served two stints on Coca-Cola’s board, the most recent beginning in 2004.

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