updated 4/22/2004 7:40:14 AM ET 2004-04-22T11:40:14

Gillette chairman and chief executive James Kilts has taken himself out of consideration to be Coca-Cola Co.'s new chief executive, a newspaper reported.

Kilts has told a search committee made up of top Coke directors that he is not interested in the job, The Wall Street Journal reported in Thursday editions, citing people familiar with the situation.

Kilts is at least the third prominent executive to withdraw from the pool of potential candidates, the newspaper said.

It said Carlos Gutierrez, chairman and chief executive of Kellogg, and Robert Eckert, chairman and chief executive of Mattel Inc., also told Coke directors this week that they weren't interested.

Coke officials have said little about their search for a new chief executive beyond that Steve Heyer, the No. 2 executive at the Atlanta-based company, is the top internal candidate and that other candidates from outside the company will be considered.

Nine Coke board members contacted by The Associated Press declined to comment or did not return phone calls earlier this week.

Current Coke chairman and chief executive Doug Daft, 60, has said he will step down at the end of the year.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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