In one of the most eagerly anticipated appointments in the drinks industry in recent years, Coca-Cola has finally announced that it has appointed Steve Heyer as its new president and chief operating officer. Heyer, one of the few "outsiders" to gain a top position at the company, was many analysts favourite to win the role.

Heyer, 50, joined the group in 2001 and has since been in charge of Coke's Latin American operations, marketing and new business ventures.

The position of president has been vacant sine the last incumbent Jack Stahl, left after a reorganization in March 2001. The position of COO had been held by Brian Dyson who came out of retirement last year to take the role.

Speaking after the announcement Heyer said he expects to continue the strategy put in place by CEO Douglas Daft which aims to improve the Coke system. He predicted that a new structure would see those plans executed "better and faster".

"Over the past 18 months, Steve has brought a fresh and objective perspective that has been enormously helpful to all of us while, at the same time, embracing and learning from the rich historic culture of Coca-Cola. This combination uniquely qualifies him for this key position," Daft said.

It remains unclear who will fill Heyer's previous position.