WSJ: Coke’s Board Getting Younger

Coca-Cola Co.'s Board of Directors

For a company that counts 18-30 year old consumers as its “sweet spot,” the Coca-Cola Co., Inc. is a bit long in the tooth when it comes to its board of directors. That’s changing, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal which reports a slow, but steady, changing of the guard.

While septuagenarians and octogenarians still comprise a majority of Coke’s board – nine of its 17 directors elected in 2012 were at least 70 years old – several of its members are planning to step down between now and 2015. Those include veteran directors Donald Keough and Herbert Allen, each of whom wields legendary clout as a former president and major shareholder of Coke, respectively.

As replacements, Coke is recruiting individuals in their fifties, such as Helene Gayle, the 57 year-old CEO of CARE, a humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Gayle is up for election to the board for the first time. If elected, she will be one of a growing number of younger directors including Robert Kotick, the 50-year-old CEO of video game company Activision Blizzard Inc. and Evan Greenberg, the CEO of insurer ACE Ltd. Greenberg is 57 and has been on the board since 2011, while Kotick became a director last year.

Although Coke’s board had last year discussed – but ultimately rejected – an acquisition of energy drink giant Monster Beverage Corp., a new generation of board members could push the cola giant to invest in new and emerging beverage categories, and shift away from the shrinking cola market.