Coca-Cola chairman Muhtar Kent at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York last week. (Getty Images)
ATLANTA -- The Coca-Cola Company's chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent, says economic recovery will be slow, that youth unemployment is a big issue that needs attention, that the Atlanta-based company is ready for Obamacare, and that Coke continues to have big plans for growth in Africa, where the company will invest $12 billion over the next 10 years.
Kent discussed the topics at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York last week, during an interview with Fox News' Liz Claman.
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Regarding the economy, Kent said, "We feel that the recovery is slow. What is really important to add is that it is not a surprise. Way back in 2009 when all of this sort of erupted, it was destined not to be, the way it happened, it was destined not to be a fast, typical, cyclical recovery."
Kent added, "Everybody needs to understand. Investors. Consumers. Governments. Businesses. All need to understand. This is not a straight line. That this is going to be long, protracted and painful. And therefore we all need to adjust. Adjust not once or twice, but every single year and every single month. Adjust so that we can have enough firing power to ensure we find ways to grow. Growth is the critical element."
When asked by Fox News about Obamacare, Kent said, in part, "We will adapt as all businesses and do what is necessary to serve our people well and also to ensure that our costs stay in line. You got to balance. It is a balancing act. We have a number of flexible plans to choose from ready to go once that happens."
Kent said he believes youth unemployment is a big societal issue. He said businesses and governments need to partner to solve the issue. He said too much is expected of national governments, and that business needs to partner with "sub-national" governments, mayors and governors to bring down youth unemployment.
Kent said the company is growing in all markets, and continues to see Africa as a big opportunity for growth. He said Coke will spend $12 billion over the next 10 years to grow in Africa - double what the company has invested there in last 10 years. Kent said seven of 10-fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa.
(Atlanta Business Chronicle)