Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola products on a San Francisco store shelf. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press / April 19, 2006)

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Coca-Cola Co. has announced that it will split its North America business into two units as it aims to return to a traditional franchising model.

The Atlanta-based beverage giant also announced changes in its top leadership.

The company said Thursday that effective Jan. 1, it have two new units -- Coca-Cola North America and Coca-Cola Refreshments. 

J.A.M. Douglas has been appointed group president for Coca-Cola North America. Paul Mulligan will lead Coca-Cola Refreshments, the bottling division of the business, the company said. 

Coca-Cola announced earlier this year that it would revamp the company as it tries to deal with a decline its soda business. Consumers have been drinking less of the fizzy drinks and are increasingly turning to other beverage options, posing a challenge for soda makers.

They've in turn introduced many new beverages that include flavored waters, iced teas and other drinks.

With the creation of the new business units, "we are in a position to leverage this flexibility to return to a traditional company and bottling operating model in North America," said Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola Co.'s chief executive.

This "will enhance our focus on execution and accelerate the refranchising of our bottling system in our flagship market,” he said.

Shares of Coca-Cola rose $0.26, or .66%, to $39.47 in midday trading in New York on Friday.

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