updated 2/14/2006 9:56:17 AM ET 2006-02-14T14:56:17

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett will not stand for re-election to The Coca-Cola Co.’s board of directors, the world’s biggest soft drink company said Tuesday.

Buffett, who has been on the board since 1989 and is one of the company’s biggest shareholders, told Coke he made his decision because of increased demands on his time resulting from acquisitions by his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

He said Berkshire Hathaway intends to retain its holdings of Coca-Cola stock, which regulatory filings show amounted to more than 200 million shares, or about 8.3 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, as of last year.

Some shareholders have raised questions about Buffett sitting on the Coke board while some of the companies he owns do business with Coke.

The Atlanta-based company also said Tuesday that J. Pedro Reinhard has also informed the company that he does not intend to seek another term on the board at the company’s annual meeting April 19. Reinhard has been on the Coke board since 2003.

The company said it has no immediate plans to fill the two vacated board seats.

In 2003, McLane Co., a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, paid Coke $103.9 million for fountain syrup and other products. Also in 2003, Coke gave McLane $11 million in agency commissions related to the sale of the company’s products to customers, regulatory filings show.

Also, fast-food and ice cream chain Dairy Queen, another company Buffett owns, and its subsidiaries, paid Coke $2.2 million for fountain syrup and other products in 2003. Coke and its subsidiaries that year gave Dairy Queen and its subsidiaries $688,000 for promotional and marketing incentives for corporate and franchise stores.

Coke paid The Washington Post Co., in which Buffett holds a significant stake, $400,000 in 2003 for advertising fees.

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