Austerity moves behind Coca Cola Hellenic's London switch


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The Independent Online

Greece's biggest company has warned of mounting eurozone pressures ahead of its new year switch to the London Stock Exchange.

Coca Cola Hellenic, which bottles the fizzy, caffeinated drink in 28 countries from Russia to Ireland, announced flat, third-quarter net profit of €156m (£124m) yesterday, after violent scenes in Athens.

These followed the Greek government's announcement of its most draconian austerity measures yet to qualify for a new, eurozone bailout. These moves were a major factor behind Hellenic's decision to relocate to Switzerland and move its primary listing to the FTSE 100 index.

The chief executive Dimitris Lois believes the company, which is part-owned by Coca-Cola, has been undervalued as a result of Greece's economic dramas. He said: "It [London] 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."

Greece accounts for only 5 per cent of Hellenic's business and its shareholder base is mainly international. However, the group accounts for about one-fifth of the Athens Stock Exchange.