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In-house: Coca-Cola refreshes leadership roles appointing RB’s Huma Allana

Coca-Cola European Partners has freshened up its legal leadership team as the expiration of the soft drink giant’s UK panel nears.

The newly-merged company has appointed Reckitt Benckiser’s (RB) Huma Allana (formerly Blunt) as its new vice president for legal in Great Britain. Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners, and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke finalised their tie up last year in a move which created the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler based on net-sales.

Joining Coca-Cola at the end of March, Allana acted as RB’s regional legal director for the UK, Ireland, Nordics, Australia and New Zealand. She has also been advising RB on a global legal strategy for its e-business team. Allana returns to Coca-Cola having worked at the company for around six years.

Paul van Reesch has taken up the new role of vice president for legal corporate and deputy company secretary which he began on 1 January. Following the merger, Coca-Cola’s corporate team has been moved from Atlanta to Europe. Van Reesch took over from Atlanta-based Suzanne Forlidas who will retire at the end of March.

Van Reesch also expects Coca-Cola European Partners’ UK legal panel to be reviewed this year. The review will be the first since last year’s merger and will be completed under the watch of new general counsel (GC) and company secretary Clare Wardle who joined in July last year.

The 2015 review was led by van Reesch with Allana now expected to head up this year’s re-evaluation. Ashurst, RPC, Lewis Silkin and Shoosmiths were all appointed at the end of 2015 while Devereux Chambers was selected as Coca-Cola’s preferred barristers’ set.

Van Reesch told Legal Business: ‘If we were going to review this panel, it would be this year but we have to wait and see what the priorities are. As you can imagine with a new GC in a new organisation, there may well be a review of what we’re going to do in the market place in terms of our legal functions and support.’ Van Reesch now presides over a team of five while Wardle heads up a team of around 95.

Allana added: ‘It is a superb opportunity. There are some opportunities that look better on paper than they are in reality, and then there are others where you know you can make a real difference. At Coca-Coca European Partners, the legal function is highly respected, dynamic, commercial and truly adds value.’

In October it emerged BP’s group GC Rupert Bondy, one of the most high-profile in-house leaders in the community was set to join RB.

Read more:Client profile: Paul van Reesch, Coca-Cola Enterprises