ATLANTA: Veteran Coca-Cola Company ceo Neville Isdell is to step down from the role next July to make way for his anointed heir and current chief operating officer, Muhtar Kent(pictured).

Isdell (64) will remain chairman of the world's number one soft drinks company until 2009. The announcement of his departure was not expected at this time and the company has not revealed the reasons for it.

Kent (55) has pledged to continue the beverage titan's present strategy to revive existing brands, expand overseas and acquire outside brands when appropriate.

He was at the heart of Coke's acquisition of Glacéau, the maker of Vitaminwater earlier this year.

Kent joined Coke in 1978 and has worked in a number of marketing and operations roles, mainly overseas. He was appointed as president/coo last December.

Data sourced from International Herald Tribune; additional content by WARC staff