Blog: Andy MortonKent's dire warning puts Coca-Cola woes in the shade

Andy Morton | 25 January 2016

The global elite were in Switzerland last week for the World Economic Forum in Davos, the annual corporate huddle for the rich and powerful. The CEO of The Coca-Cola Co, Muhtar Kent, was there too, despite his company arguably being slightly less rich and powerful this year after some bruising quarters in the marketplace. Last year, there was even talk that the Coke owner is in line to be taken over by Anheuser-Busch InBev's masters.

The sunglass-wearing Kent didn't discuss that in an interview with Yahoo, but he did take time to warn that the business world is a “volatile place”, with previously fast-growing markets slowing down and slower-growth regions such as the US speeding up.

He also threw cold water on alarm over China's slowing growth rate, saying 6% is pretty solid for a country of its size.

“When you get up there, the air is thinner,” Kent said, sagely.

As befits the atmosphere in Davos, where delegates love to tackle the world's bigger problems with some blue-sky thinking, Kent laid into widening equality gaps and the continued stripping out of white-collar administrative jobs by the new digital economy. He proposed more apprenticeships and a focus on youth employment, and offered his own dire warning of what could happen if nothing is done.

“The whole social mosaic is going to crumble,” he said. “And we're all going to crumble underneath it.”

It puts Coca-Cola's full-year results next month into a useful context.

Sectors: Soft drinks

Companies: Coca-Cola Co

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