To Head Faltering U.S. Operations

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CHICAGO ( -- Coors Brewing Co. is conducting a search for an executive to run its faltering U.S. business and stand as a potential heir to company CEO-President Leo Kiely, according to executives familiar with the matter.

The company is searching for a president of the U.S. business -- a newly created post -- because the board is worried about the weak performance of the brewer's flagship brand Coors Light over the past three years, the executives said.

No clear-cut successor
The board also doesn't believe there is a clear-cut successor in the executive ranks for Mr. Kiely, who at least for now isn't in the hot seat.

The company did not respond to phone requests for comment by press time.

The search is expected to be wrapped up within the next couple of months.

Mr. Kiely, 57, has not announced plans to retire.

Declining sales
Potential candidates couldn't be identified. But whoever takes the job at the country's No. 3 brewer faces the unenviable task of revitalizing Coors Light, which represents 51% of global and 75% of domestic volume. It suffered its first volume drop in its 25-year history in 2003 after posting marginal gains in 2002 and 2001.

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