Nary a single pair of eyebrows arched at Wednesday's news that Coca-Cola president Steven J Heyer (51) is to quit after ceding the beverage behemoth's top job to E Neville Isdell last month.

Isdell, a retiree known for his diplomatic skills and international background, was a surprise choice to succeed chairman and chief executive Douglas Daft.

Heyer, hitherto the odds-on favorite, was hailed as "an outstanding candidate" by Don Keough, the Coke director heading the board appointments committee, before conferring the Mafiosi kiss.

Commented Morgan Stanley analyst Bill Pecoriello: "Heyer's departure leaves a great big hole in Coke's organization in terms of marketing strategy and planning."

His decision to quit followed a tête-à-tête with Isdell earlier this month as to how "to do what's best" for Coke", said the company with a straight face.

Marc Greenberg, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, was less coy: "Neville is going to take the reins in earnest. That's the message here," he said.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff