Coca Cola boss reckons Ireland still the real thing

Global business forum held in Dublin ahead of college football game

Coca-Cola  CEO Muhtar Kent. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive of the Coca Cola Company, told an audience of Irish and US business leaders in Dublin on Friday that the beverage company is committed to its Irish operations and will invest “billions” more here in coming years.

He made the comments in response to a question from the floor about whether he was concerned over the €13 billion tax ruling against fellow US firm, Apple.

He said Coca Cola, which employs close to 1,800 in Ireland, has to date invested “more than €1 billion” in Ireland he envisages this will rise to “€2 billion or €3 billion”, although he did not lay out a timeframe.

Happy with Ireland Coca Cola announced a €26 million investment in its plant in Mayo this week, creating about 25 jobs. “We’re very happy with Ireland. We’re comfortable here, we’ve unpacked our bags and we are not here as tourists,” he replied, when asked about the possible consequences of the Apple case for Ireland.

Mr Kent was the keynote speaker at a lunch in Dublin’s Mansion House, at the inaugural Boston College Chief Executives’ Club Global Forum, organised by the college ahead of Saturday’s American Football match in the Aviva Stadium with Georgia Tech.

Mr Kent spoke at length about the business links between Ireland and the US, as well as his own personal links. He revealed how he was saved by Dublin doctors when he was injured in a serious accident while in Ireland in 1981.

“I owe my life to the [now defunct] Baggot Street hospital. Every time I come to Ireland, I cherish that building, even though the hospital is long gone.”

Tribute

He paid tribute to several high level Irish figures in the Coca Cola company, including Roscommon man Irial Finan, who is executive vice-president and head of its bottling investments, and Paul Mulligan, who heads up Coke’s US business.

He also issued a thinly-veiled rebuke of Donald Trump, commenting that immigration is a necessary element of economic growth: “I wish we could remember that more these days.”