Mr. Kent, currently the company's president and chief operating officer, had been considered the front-runner to succeed Chairman-CEO E. Neville Isdell, 64, who remains as chairman until April 2009. Mr. Kent will take over as CEO on July 1, 2008.
"This next management step, which draws on the successful partnership between Muhtar and me, ensures that we will continue to grow and enhance Coca-Cola's business around the world," Mr. Isdell said in a statement. "We are very certain that Muhtar is prepared for this next transition in management responsibilities and is the absolute right person to take our company to the next level."
Mr. Isdell was appointed chairman-CEO in June 2004.
Mr. Kent joined Coke in 1978 and held a variety of marketing and operational jobs, eventually becoming president of the East Central European Division in 1989. He later served as managing director of Coca-Cola Amatil Europe, overseeing bottling for 12 countries.
He left the company in 1999 to be CEO of Efes Beverage Group, one of Europe's largest international businesses, but returned in 2005 as president of North Asia, Eurasia and Middle East Group. He was appointed COO last December.
"The opportunity to lead the Coca-Cola Co. is an extraordinary honor," Mr. Kent said. "I look forward to building on the strong foundation for sustainable growth that we have set in place for the Coca-Cola system around the world."
Coca-Cola has struggled in recent years, due to a maturing market in the U.S. and the movement to better-for-you beverages. The company is one of the country's top 100 advertisers, having spent nearly $741 million in 2006 in the U.S. alone.
Coca-Cola's agencies include Anomaly, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Doner, Publicis and Wieden & Kennedy.