In an interview to appear on FOX Business Network’s (FBN) Countdown to the Closing Bell (3PM/ET), anchor Liz Claman speaks with Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland about how the recent payroll-tax increase has impacted the company. Kent says, “We haven't seen an impact yet. It's too early to tell,” but that, “We still see great opportunities in the United States for our business in the coming decade and continuing on from there.” Kent also discusses the company’s clean water partnership with DEKA Research & Development, saying, “Water is a very big issue in the world and will continue to become bigger because nobody treats water with dignity.”
Excerpts from the report are below.
On whether less people have been buying Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) due to the recent payroll-tax increase:
“No, I think that generally speaking we still see great opportunities in the United States for our business in the coming decade and continuing on from there. We haven't seen an impact yet. It's too early to tell. But I would say this, I would say if we can have a solution, which I believe we will, for fiscal reform, if we can have a solution in the United States for tax reform, to get a 21st Century tax policy in place that we can all be proud of, if we can get immigration reform in place, and if we can also start having a solution for our infrastructure, infrastructure reform, I believe the United States is going -- the future is so bright for the United States.”
On Coca-Cola’s clean water partnership with DEKA Research & Development:
“Water is a very big issue in the world and will continue to become bigger because nobody treats water with dignity in the world. Everybody thinks it's free, it's available. Agriculture has a lot to improve in terms of practices in how they conserve water. We all have to conserve water better, treat it with more dignity. And therefore Coca-Cola has been the first business in a way that has declared a goal of water neutrality by 2020. Think of the amount of water that Coca-Cola uses and then we have said by 2020 we are going to globally become water-neutral. That means give back to the world every liter of water that we use in our beverages, and to make our beverages.”
On whether he thinks President Obama has become more business-friendly:
“I would say I have great hopes that the next four years are going to be better and a good four years for the United States.”
On what he would say to a governor who wants to institute a tax on sodas:
“I would say we cannot tax our way and solve this -- any of these problems. We can't tax and provide solutions. It has never provided solutions. We can only grow our way out of the current situation. And growth means coming together as business, as government, to try and create the necessary platform so that business can continue to invest. We have invested $10 billion in the United States in the last three years. We still see great opportunities in the United States. When you look at the top 15 brands in the business of non-alcoholic beverages in the United States, there has actually been growth in those top 15 brands in the United States. So brands are growing. Maybe the industry is not growing as a whole, but the brand -- key successful brands are growing. And by the way, in dollar value, the industry has also grown 3 percent in the last three years.”
On whether he uses Facebook:
“I don't. But I'm really proud that now we've gone past the 57 million mark on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). And I think this is really what's fascinating about the world today, how it's changing so fast and the way that no longer are you only going to be communicating to your consumers. Consumers communicate with each other and talk about your brand. And that is the key in how you actually shape motivation of consumers and how you shape your brand in a positive manner or -- and how you succeed in this world today.”
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