Coca-Cola's president and COO is leaving the company after he was overlooked for the position of chairman and CEO last month. The company announced today (Wednesday) that Steven Heyer will be leaving Coke after an orderly transition period.

Heyer, who was thought to have been the favoured internal candidate to replace Douglas Daft as chairman and CEO, has been expected to leave the company after Neville Isdell was announced as Daft's replacement in May.

In a statement, Isdell, who assumed the position on 1 June, said: "In discussions over the past week, Steve and I have looked at how he could best realise his personal goals given my election as chairman and chief executive officer of this company. We agreed that Steve could best realise his aspirations by pursuing opportunities outside of the company.

"On behalf of everyone at Coca-Cola, I want to thank Steve for his contributions and wish him and his family all the best as he goes on to what we know will be great achievements," Isdell added.

Heyer said: "I have enjoyed my tenure at The Coca-Cola Company and am proud of what we have been able to accomplish. I believe that The Coca-Cola Company today is on a well-conceived strategic course and is hitting its stride both financially and operationally.

"With outstanding new senior leadership coming on board, this is the right time for me to pursue new opportunities. Over the months ahead, I will do all I can to help Neville assure a smooth transition," Heyer concluded.

Heyer, 51, has spent three years at Coke. He joined the company in March 2001 from then-AOL Time Warner, where he had served as president and chief operating officer of Turner Broadcasting System Inc.