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Coke to cut up to 2,000 jobs in coming weeks: WSJ

[ATLANTA] Coca-Cola Co plans to cut 1,000-2,000 jobs globally in the coming weeks, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The job cuts are part of Coke's US$3 billion cost-cutting programme, which it announced in October after posting a 14 per cent drop in third-quarter profit, according to the Journal.

Job-cut notices will go out to North American staffers by Jan. 8 and to international employees by Jan. 15, the Journal said. The impact is expected to be significant at Coke's headquarters in Atlanta and global regional offices, where more than 10 per cent of corporate staff could lose their jobs, according to the newspaper.

The company's bottling and distribution divisions, which account for more than 85 per cent of its over 130,000 employees, are largely out of the firing line for now, the Journal said.

A Coke spokeswoman said the company had informed employees that the restructuring would impact jobs, but she did not confirm the estimated number of job cuts.

She said Coke was still figuring out how many jobs it would cut and employees in some eliminated positions would be allowed to apply for other jobs in the company.

Coke is also introducing stricter budgeting such as asking executives to swap limousines for taxis, and has canceled its Christmas party for Wall Street analysts, the Journal reported.

The company raised in October its cost-savings target to US$3 billion by 2019 from US$1 billion announced in February.

Wintergreen Advisers, a minority shareholder of Coke, called last week for the replacement of Chief Executive Muhtar Kent, calling him "incapable of leading Coke's turnaround".

Atlanta-based Coke's shares were up 1.7 per cent at US$43.08 in late afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.