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Coke Promotes Head of North American Unit

ATLANTA - The Coca-Cola Co. yesterday promoted the head of the retail division of its key North American unit to run the entire unit.

Donald Knauss takes over position left vacant when Jeff Dunn left in December, according to a company statement. In the interim, president and c.e.o. Steve Heyer had been running the North American unit.

The North American unit, which accounts for majority of Coca-Cola's sales, has experienced a major restructuring over the past year that has included at least 1,000 layoffs and key management changes.

Last week, chairman and chief executive Doug Daft announced his intention to retire at the end of 2004 as head of the world's largest beverage maker. Heyer is the top internal candidate to succeed Daft, but the company also is looking outside the company for suitable candidates.

How the Knauss' promotion might affect the decision on filling Daft's position is not known. Company spokesman Dan Schafer declined to answer any questions beyond the official statement announcing the promotion.

Knauss, who joined Coca-Cola in 1994 as s.v.p. of marketing for The Minute Maid Co., has since served in a variety of executive roles in the United States and abroad. He was named president of the retail division of the North America unit last year.
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