Coca-Cola Co said Muhtar Kent would step aside as chief executive on May 1 after about nine years at the helm, and be replaced by Chief Operating Officer James Quincey.

Kent, 64, will continue as chairman, the company said.

Quincey, 51, joined Coca-Cola in 1996 and became chief operating officer in August 2015.

His appointment as CEO was given a vote of confidence by Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, which is Coca Cola 's largest shareholder.

"I know James and like him, and believe the company has made a smart investment in its future with his selection," Buffett said in a statement.

The move comes at a time when Coca-Cola is building its non-carbonated drinks portfolio, cutting costs by selling its bottling operations and stepping up efforts to reduce sugar in its beverages to counter slowing sales.

Coca-Cola still gets about 70 percent of its volume sales from fizzy drinks.

The company's shares were up 1.4 percent at $41.55 in premarket trading.