7 things to know about the next Coke chief

James Quincey, the next chief executive of Coca-Cola.

James Quincey, the next chief executive of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola announced today that Muhtar Kent will leave the chief executive position May 1 after nine years running the huge, Atlanta-based company. His replacement will be James Quincey, who is currently chief operating officer.

At 51, Quincey is 13 years younger than Muhtar Kent. Here are seven other things you might want to know about Quincey, for starters:

— His 2015 promotion to chief operating officer raised eyebrows: the job had been open for eight years.

— He is bilingual in English and Spanish.

— He has a degree in electronic engineering from the University of Liverpool.

— He's been with Coca-Cola since 1996, starting in its Latin American group — but based (contrary to our earlier report) in the United States. Atlanta, actually. He rose until he became chief of Coke's Mexico division. In 2008 he became president of Coke's Northwest Europe and Nordics business unit. He was named European president in 2013.

— He's got a fan in Warren Buffett, who said: "I know James and like him, and believe the company has made a smart investment in its future with his selection." Buffett is CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which — by the way — is Coca Cola's largest shareholder.

— His ascendance was predicted. The Street reported in August of last year that Quincey was the most likely successor to Kent "given his global resume."

— Analysts say his biggest challenge is finding a way for Coke to prosper as consumer preferences shift away from sugary drinks and toward beverages and food that is perceived to be healthier or more natural. During his tenure as CEO, Kent has started to diversify Coke, acquiring Energy Brands Inc. in 2007.