October 24/Mexico City/Marketwired -- Coca-Cola FEMSA, S.A.B. de C.V. announces that its board of directors has appointed John Santa Maria Otazua as chief executive officer, effective January 1, 2014. Santa Maria is currently chief operating officer of the company's South America Division and succeeds Carlos Salazar Lomelin, who has served as the company's CEO since 2000.

The board of directors of Fomento Economico Mexicano, S.A.B. de C.V. (FEMSA) appointed Carlos Salazar Lomelin as chief executive officer, replacing Jose Antonio Fernandez Carbajal, who was ratified as FEMSA's executive chairman of the board of directors.

During his tenure, Salazar's focus on the disciplined execution of Coca-Cola FEMSA's strategic framework drove the company's revenues from $1.7 billion to close to $14 billion, including the Philippines. Under his leadership, Coca-Cola FEMSA expanded operations from Mexico and Argentina to 10 different countries on two continents. During this period, the company was transformed into a leading multi-category beverage player in Latin America -- expanding to achieve a leading position in non-carbonated beverages through Jugos del Valle and complementing its portfolio with value-added dairy products. Salazar holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and a Masters in Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) and is currently president of the advisory board of the EGADE Business School of this institution.

Over the past 18 years, Santa Maria has held important operational and strategic roles within the company, accomplishing a highly successful track record. He has served as chief operating oOfficer of Coca-Cola FEMSA's Mexico Division, as well as Strategic Planning and Commercial director for the company. Santa Maria has also served in significant roles in different strategic projects of the company, including the acquisition of Panamerican Beverages, Inc. and the acquisition of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. Santa Maria holds a degree in Business Administration and an MBA with a major in Finance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

"In his various roles within the company, John has proved to be a visionary leader with great management and people skills. In his new role, the company will remain committed to the creation of long-term value within the beverage industry and will continue to contribute to the growth and development of the Coca-Cola system. This appointment is a testament to the company's continuous generation of opportunities for talent development at all levels of the organization," said Carlos Salazar Lomelin, chief executive oOfficer of the company.

"Supported by a talented team of executives, I am honored and privileged to lead Coca-Cola FEMSA's efforts to keep on consolidating its leadership position in the non-alcoholic beverage industry. The company has developed a solid foundation of dedicated executives in its territories and is well prepared to capture the opportunities that lie ahead," said John Santa Maria Otazua, appointed chief executive officer of the company.

"We acknowledge and appreciate Carlos Salazar's leadership and dedication over these past 14 years. His relentless drive and energy have permeated the entire Company," said Jose Antonio Fernandez Carbajal, chairman of the board of directors of Coca-Cola FEMSA. "The board of directors unanimously approved John Santa Maria to lead Coca-Cola FEMSA given his demonstrated strong track record and leadership skills. We welcome John in this new role as we are certain that his vision and drive will translate into sustainable value creation for our stakeholders."