Is One of These Men Coca-Cola’s Next CEO?

Begininng Jan. 1, current Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) CEO Muhtar Kent will have around half as many executives reporting to him.

Instead, a good chunk of his workers will instead be reporting to two men — Steve Cahillane and Ahmet Bozer — who have been named senior executives. The move appears to signal the start of the race to see who will succeed Kent, and appears to make these two the front-runners.

The race, though, is in its early stages to say the least. The contest to see who could be the next head honcho at the world’s largest beverage company is expected to go on for years.

Kent is showing no signs of giving up his title anytime soon: He has voiced intentions to double the company’s business this decade and isn’t required by the company to retired at age 65.

Plus, he has excelled as CEO thus far, boosting profits and taking market share from competitor Pepsi (NYSE:PEP), The Wall Street Journal reports. The company beat estimates in the latest quarter despite rising corn prices, is part of InvestorPlace‘s Real America Index and is up nearly 16% year-to-date.

Still, he will have to hand over the reins eventually — and the battle has begun for whenever that may be. For now, Cahillane is responsible for Coke’s operations in the Americas and Bozer has taken over operations in all other parts of the world.

So to the two men who seem most likely to be the victors: May the odds be ever in your favor.

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