Muhtar Kent is confident the US will pull itself out of the financial crisis first

Muhtar Kent is confident the US will pull itself out of the financial crisis first

The Coca-Cola Co's CEO Muhtar Kent says he believes the US will emerge from the global economic crisis first due to its strong entrepreneurial spirit, while Europe will continue to suffer. 

In a wide-ranging interview with Fox Business, the soft drinks firm's chief said: "The United States, I think, is one where I still believe is going to come out of this crisis first because of a strong demographic, strong ethic and culture for entrepreneurial spirit." 

He added: “I think Europe is going to continue to struggle for a while." 

But Kent, who got his job at Coca-Cola in 1978 after answering a classified ad, admitted Europe was a "tale of different cities".

"You've got Eastern Europe, Poland and Germany, parts of Scandinavia are doing not so badly," he said.  "And you've got Southern Europe still struggling because of all the issues that we know." 

He also noted that Africa is continuing to generate "very strong growth" for the firm, while China is "slowing down". 

On New York's proposed ban on large-serve sugary drinks, the Coca-Cola chief said he has "great respect" for the city's mayor Michael Bloomberg. But he argued the problem of obesity will only be tackled if authorities and companies work together.

"I will say very clearly...we need to collaborate, work in this golden triangle, not go against each other," he said.

Asked about the London Assembly calling for a ban on firms such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola sponsoring the Olympics, Kent said that in the UK 40% of what it produces is calorie-free. "I think there isn't a better way for us to raise awareness of this global societal issue through a movement like the Olympic Games," he said. 

Meanwhile, the CEO admitted the group was concered about the US Midwest's drought, as corn prices have hit record levels, but added: "We know that we can manage through it". Kent said sugar was a more important commodity to the company than corn. 

Yesterday (30 July), Coca-Cola announced plans to streamline its global corporate structure