3M Adds Coca-Cola CEO to Board, Raises Dividend

3M Adds Coca-Cola CEO to Board, Raises Dividend

Coca-Cola’s chief executive has been elected to 3M’s board of directors; meanwhile, 3M’s CEO said the company’s new dividend and share repurchase program reflect “confidence in 3M’s future.”

Maplewood-based 3M Company said Wednesday that Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, will join its board on April 1.

Kent joined Atlanta-based Coca-Cola in 1978 and held a number of marketing and operations leadership positions. In 1989, he was named president of the company’s East Central Europe division and senior vice president of Coca-Cola International, a role in which he oversaw operations in 23 countries.

Kent then served a stint as president and CEO of the Efes Beverage Group, a diversified beverage company with operations across Southeast Europe, Turkey, and Central Asia, before returning to Coca-Cola in 2005 as president and CEO of its North Asia, Eurasia, and Middle East division. He served as president of Coca-Cola International before being appointed CEO in 2008 and then chairman the following year.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome Mr. Kent to our board,” 3M Chairman, President, and CEO Inge Thulin said in a statement. “He is a talented and proven global business leader and will bring valuable insight and management experience to the board and our company.”

Kent isn’t the only beverage-industry leader to serve on 3M’s board, which also counts among its directors Robert Morrison, retired vice chairman of PepsiCo.

News of Kent’s appointment came one day after 3M announced a $7.5 billion share repurchase plan. 3M gave no end date for the stock repurchase program, which replaces an existing $7 billion plan from 2011, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The company also announced a 63.5-cents-per-share dividend for the first quarter—representing an 8 percent jump from the same period a year ago. The dividend is payable on March 12 and will go to those who hold shares on February 15. The new payout marks 3M’s 55th consecutive year of dividend increases and its 96th year of steady dividend payments, the company said.

Thulin said that the dividend increase and stock repurchase program “reflect both our confidence in 3M’s future and our commitment to return significant cash to our shareholders.”

The company said that, during the last decade, it has returned $32 billion to shareholders through such actions, representing 89 percent of its net income.

3M’s latest announcements come on the heels of increased profits and record sales for both the fourth quarter of 2012 and the full year. Fourth-quarter net income climbed 3.9 percent to $991 million, while revenue for the quarter rose 4.2 percent to $7.4 billion.

Profits for the full year totaled $6.5 billion, up 4.9 percent from 2011. Sales, meanwhile, reached a record $29.9 billion, up 1 percent year-over-year.

News of the strong financial performance propelled 3M’s stock to an all-time high late last month. It has since climbed even higher and was trading up 1.2 percent at $102.69 Wednesday afternoon.