Coca-Cola CEO Isdell awarded $21.65 million in 2007

WASHINGTON, March 3 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Coca-Cola Co KO.N, the world's largest maker of soft drinks, was awarded $21.65 million in compensation in 2007, a 3.6 percent increase from the prior year, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.

Neville Isdell was awarded $1.61 million in salary, $6.65 million of nonequity incentive plan compensation, and $817,066 in “other compensation.” He was not awarded any bonus.

According to the company’s annual proxy, Isdell was also granted stock and option awards worth $12.57 million as of the grant date in February 2007.

Included in other compensation were perks such as $341,849 in aircraft usage, $80,116 for a car and driver, $117,065 for security, and $48,169 for tax reimbursement.

Coca-Cola said its perk program provides benefits that allow executives to efficiently perform their responsibilities and minimize distractions.

The company said it increased Isdell’s base salary by 10 percent in 2007 -- for the first since since he became CEO in 2004 -- because of his “strong performance” and because market data was indicating higher base salaries for CEO positions.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola’s net income for 2007 increased 17.7 percent from the prior year to $5.98 billion, while net operating revenues increased 19.8 percent to $28.86 billion.

The filing said Isdell’s 2007 annual incentive award took into account that Coca-Cola’s total return to shareholders, representing share price appreciation and dividends, was 30 percent. It also noted the company achieved 4 percent growth in carbonated beverages and 12 percent growth in still beverages.

That growth, driven by the introduction of Coca-Cola Zero and the acquisition of Glaceau’s vitaminwater, comes at a time when sales of traditional soft drinks are declining in the United States, their biggest market, as people opt for drinks like bottled water and tea, which they view as healthier.

But Coke Zero and vitaminwater helped Coke achieve 1 percent growth in North American total volume in 2007, up from flat volume growth in 2006.

The Atlanta-based company also said Isdell made strides in repositioning the U.S. business for growth, including the acquisition of Glaceau brands in June, completed succession planning for the CEO role, and continued to lead the company’s efforts in corporate social responsibility. (Reporting by Karey Wutkowski, editing by Dave Zimmerman)