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Flat Coke

Financial Times (London, England)
April 20, 2005 Wednesday

Coke's annual meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, yesterday felt more like a student protest rally.

Chairman Neville Isdell faced two hours of hostile questioning from activist shareholders.

Much of the inquisition focused on 15 year old allegations of Coke involvement in the murder of union leaders in Colombia. Other issues included the exploitation of scarce water resources in India, advertising of teeth-rotting drinks to children and heavy use of polluting plastics.

A large digital clock and bell was used to prevent people speaking for more than three minutes. Isdell rebutted the first several questions at length, once even breaking his own three minute rule.

Many ordinary shareholders were clearly irritated by the hijacking of the meeting. But, with Coke's stock having halved since 1998, there was one issue that united most investors: complaints about excessive executive remuneration were greeted with warm applause.

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