updated 6/9/2004 9:25:36 AM ET 2004-06-09T13:25:36

The Coca-Cola Co.'s No. 2 executive, Steve Heyer, is stepping down, the company said Wednesday.

The announcement comes a month after Heyer was passed over for the top job at the world's largest beverage maker.

In a statement, Atlanta-based Coke said the decision for Heyer to leave as president and chief operating officer was by mutual agreement. He will stay on for a transition period of several months, Coke said without elaborating.

E. Neville Isdell, a veteran Coke system executive who was named last month to replace Doug Daft as chairman and chief executive, said the decision regarding Heyer followed discussions the two had over the past week.

"We agreed that Steve could best realize his aspirations by pursuing opportunities outside of the company and we both also want to see his important work during the past three years transitioned in a professional and mutually beneficial manner," Isdell said.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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