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Briefs (right)

Clorox Names Coke
Official as Chairman

By Alex Berenson

In another sign of the difficulties facing Coca-Cola Co. as it tries to revive its core franchise, the president of Coke’s North American unit, Donald R. Knauss, resigned Wednesday to become chairman and chief executive of Clorox.

Knauss, 55, had been president of Coca-Cola North America for two years. He will begin at Clorox in early October, the company said.

He succeeds Robert W. Matschullat, a former Seagram executive who has served as Clorox’s interim chairman since March, when Gerald E. Johnston, 58, stepped down after suffering a heart attack. Matschullat will remain on Clorox’s board.

To succeed Knauss, Coke promoted J. Alexander M. Douglas Jr., its senior vice president and chief customer officer.

The appointment of Douglas is a “management upgrade for the North American business,” said John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest, an industry newsletter. “There’s probably no executive at Coke who understands the business and the bottlers better than Sandy.”

In a statement released by Coke, Knauss called the Clorox job “the opportunity of a lifetime.”

His departure comes as Coke continues to struggle in its carbonated beverage business, analysts said. U.S. consumers increasingly prefer energy drinks and bottled water to soda. Last year, the U.S. market for soft drinks contracted slightly, and the volume of Coca-Cola Classic, the company’s flagship beverage, fell 2 percent, according to Beverage Digest. Diet Coke, which had been one of the company’s bright spots, also lost appeal in 2005, posting essentially no growth for the year.

City Officials in New Jersey
Plead Guilty to Corruption

By Ronald Smothers

The powerful president of Atlantic City’s City Council and a former Camden council member pleaded guilty on Wednesday to federal corruption and bribery charges.

The charges grew out of a sting operation in which the two men took thousands of dollars from a local contractor and an FBI agent posing as an investor in his company. In return, the two officials agreed to get them public contracts.

Craig Callaway, 47, the president of Atlantic City’s City Council since 2003 and part of a family that has long been involved in politics in the city, pleaded guilty to a single bribery count.

In a hearing before Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez of U.S. District Court, he said that he had taken about $36,000 from the contractor over a two-year period. As part of his plea agreement, he said he had accepted the money with the understanding that he would help get the contractor work on one of the city’s development projects in the northeast section of Atlantic City.