Springing A Leak

Coke's chief calls it quits after two rough years. Can it become the Real Thing again?

Even in a company that venerates carbonated sugar water, Douglas Ivester stood out for his missionary zeal to spread Coca-Cola around the world. An accountant by training, with an eight-day-a-week work ethic, Ivester predicted a decade ago that he would be chairman and CEO of Coke by Nov. 1, 1998. He beat that brash forecast by a year when Roberto Goizueta, his charismatic mentor and predecessor, died suddenly of lung cancer in October 1997.

So last week the business world was shocked when Ivester announced he would retire next April to make way for "fresh leadership," putting an end to a...

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