Coca Cola Hellenic Quits Greece, Awful News for Economy, Bourse
Greece's largest company Coca Cola Hellenic has announced it is about to move its headquarters to Switzerland and list its shares in London.
The company, which accounts for roughly one-fifth of the Greek stock market and has a capitalization of around EUR 5.7 B, is quitting Greece after credit rating agencies downgraded its credit, on the back of a sovereign downgrade.
"A primary listing on Europe's biggest and most liquid stock exchange reflects better the international character of Coca Cola Hellenic's business activities and shareholder base," the company said.
It added that the move would improve access to equity and debt capital markets and increase its flexibility in raising new funds.
Shareholders, most of whom are abroad, will exchange their stock for shares in Coca Cola HBC AG, based in Switzerland.
The company, in which The Coca Cola Co of the US holds a 23% stake, bottles drinks in 28 countries from Russia to Nigeria.
CH said the move was designed "to better reflect the international nature of Coca-Cola Hellenic's business and shareholder base... and to improve its access to both the international equity and debt capital markets and increase its flexibility in raising new funds."
The company said 95% of its business is outside Greece: Russia (16%), Italy (15%), Nigeria (9%). Nearly all shareholders are likewise outside Greece, it said.
Analysts however are unanimous that this is very bad news for the economy and bourse of Greece, which is struggling with its fifth year of recession and an unemployment rate of over 25%.
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