Coca-Cola Hellenic to relocate headquarters to Switzerland
Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH), the world's second-largest Coca-Cola anchor bottler, is set to move its headquarters from Greece to Switzerland.
The move is a setback for the crisis-stricken Greek economy, which is reeling under sovereign debt crisis.
CCH, in which Coca-Cola of the US has a 23% stake, is the nation's largest firm by market value ($7.6bn), however generates around 5% of its business locally.
Boosted by 95% of its business being outside Greece, CCH has time and again outperformed the Athens stock market, which has plunged to 20-year lows.
The company's board of directors have also supported the voluntary share exchange offer of newly formed Swiss company Coca-Cola HBC shares for CCH shares.
It will facilitate a primary listing of the CCH Group in the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange and its potential inclusion in the FTSE 100, under a new Swiss holding company.
The transaction is expected to enhance liquidity for holders of Coca-Cola HBC shares and improve the access of the CCH Group to both the international equity and debt capital markets and increase its flexibility in raising new funds to support its operations and future growth.
The CCH Group will maintain production and distribution of its products in Greece and will continue to operate its Group Corporate Service Center in Athens which supports operations in 28 countries.
Chief executive Dimitris Lois said the move makes clear business sense.
"It will give us access to the largest pool of international investors, on the most liquid equity market in Europe providing flexibility to fund our future growth on competitive terms," he said.
The company's product portfolio consists of Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light (diet Coke), Fanta and Sprite. Brands that it manufactures and distributes include Amita, Avra, Deep RiverRock and Fruice. Brands licensed by other companies include Nestea and Monster.
CCH is not the first firm to leave Greece looking for a stable business environment. Greek dairy group FAGE earlier in October said it was moving to Luxembourg.