Coca-Cola GC to retire

Geoffrey Kelly will officially retire in February 2012 after 42 years at the company

The Coca-Cola Co. today announced that its Senior Vice President and General Counsel Geoffrey Kelly will finally hang up his briefcase after 42 years of serving the beverage giant.

Kelly, who joined the company in 1970, held a range of roles within the legal department of increasing responsibility over the years, concluding with his appointment as general counsel in 2005. He previously served as senior counsel for the Pacific Group, Middle and Far East Group and International Operations. He was elected senior vice president in 2004.

"Geoff's deep experience across the operations of the Company combined with his passion for our business and his people have made him invaluable in leading the Legal function," Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "His legacy includes developing a global organization with great depth of leadership across the entire Coca-Cola system, the successful protection of our trademarks and creation of business solutions which have accelerated the growth of our system. We wish him all the best in his retirement."

The vacancy left by Kelly’s departure will immediately be filled by Bernhard Goepelt, who was recently elected by the company’s board of directors. Effective today, Goepelt will take over Kelly’s duties as senior vice president and general counsel with the added title of chief legal counsel. Kelly will remain senior vice president until February 2012, when the transition period concludes.

Goepelt joined Coca-Cola in 1992 as legal counsel for its German division and has rapidly risen through the ranks ever since. He will report to Alex Cummings, Coca-Cola's executive vice president and chief administrative officer.

"Bernhard brings to the role comprehensive knowledge of our system, strong global legal expertise and a passion for developing a legacy of talent for the future," Kent said. "We wish Bernhard the best of success in his new role."

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