Coke's boss in last call

Terry Davis, one of Australia's longest-serving and best-paid chief executive officers, will leave Coca-Cola Amatil next year.

Terry Davis, one of Australia's longest-serving and best-paid chief executive officers, will leave Coca-Cola Amatil next year.

Australia's largest soft drink bottler yesterday confirmed Mr Davis would stand aside on August 31, 2014, after 12 years in the top job.

The long lead time means Mr Davis will be at the helm when Coca-Cola Amatil makes its much-anticipated return to Australian beer sales.

One analyst said the announcement was "classic Coke" - professional, with plenty of notice.

"There's no doubt Terry's been a fantastic CEO," the analyst said, tipping Coca-Cola Amatil would want "more of the same" from its next leader. "They've obviously got big aspirations in Indonesia and with alcohol."

Speculation about Mr Davis' future has been raging for more than a year and he is widely tipped to be succeeded by Warwick White. Mr White has spent more than 28 years in the global Coca-Cola system and is the head of the Australasian business. Other contenders are believed to include John Murphy, a former CEO of beer giant CUB, who joined Coca-Cola Amatil to help it develop its alcohol strategy. In July, he was appointed managing director of Australian beverages.

Goldman Sachs analysts Gabriel Wilson-Otto and Phillip Kimber said the news of Mr Davis' departure date was unsurprising and Coca-Cola Amatil had a "strong senior management team" including Mr White and group chief financial officer Nessa O'Sullivan.

But shareholders didn't like the news, with its shares closing down 2.9 per cent, or 44¢, to $14.80, versus a 2 per cent decline in the broader market.

Coca-Cola Amatil chairman David Gonski praised the accomplishments of Mr Davis.

"In his 11 years so far as group managing director, Terry has made a significant and lasting contribution in transforming CCA into a world-class, premium multi-beverage business," he said.

Coca-Cola Amatil sold its Pacific Beverages joint venture to Foster's and is prevented from re-entering the Australian beer market until December this year.

But it has been preparing for re-entry to the market, signing deals to distribute Sweden's Rekorderlig cider and to take a 50 per cent stake in a brewery operation set up by the Casella group.

Mr Davis earned a total package worth $7.8 million last year.

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