Coca Cola Hellenic Leaving Greece

Coca-Cola's second biggest bottler worldwide said on Thursday it was moving its headquarters from Greece to Switzerland and looking to establish a listing on the London stock exchange.

With the move, the company joins other businesses based in Greece that have chosen other shores after five years of recession and amid fears that Athens could leave the eurozone.

"Having a new headquarters in Switzerland will provide stability that will be evaluated by credit agencies," Chief Executive Dimitris Lois said in a conference call.

"More stability, that's what we are looking forward to," he added.

For the move, Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling (CCHBC), one of the largest bottlers of non-alcoholic beverages in Europe, said it would swap shares with Swiss-based Coca-Cola HBC AG, a newly-formed company.

"The operating committee will be based in Switzerland and strategically the company will be managed from Switzerland," Lois said.

"We are a Greek multinational company having its headquarters in Switzerland," he said.

In a statement earlier, Coca Cola Hellenic said the move would improve access to equity and debt capital markets and increase its flexibility in raising new funds.

Along with a stocks listing in London, Coca Cola Hellenic said that it will apply for a parallel listing on the Athens stock exchange.

"Athens stock exchange is dominated by mostly domestic companies, London is more suitable given our international activities," the chief executive said.

On Wednesday, the prominent dairy company Fage, a major exporter, said it was moving its headquarters to Luxembourg "to better reflect the increasingly global character of its activities."

Coca Cola Hellenic in August announced a 13-percent net profit drop to 127.8 million euros ($165.3 million) in the second quarter.

The company operates in 28 countries and employs 41,000 people.


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