CCE considering secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange

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The Independent Online

Coca-Cola Enterprises, which bottles and distributes the world's most popular soft drink, is considering a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange.

A full float in London, which has been ruled out, would value CCE at about £4bn, comfortably giving it a berth on the FTSE 100.

The company buys concentrate from Coca Cola, making, bottling and distributing the drink on Coca Cola's behalf. Although the two are separate companies, and independently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Coca Cola is CCE's largest shareholder.

Sources close to the company yesterday denied that a decision on the secondary listing was imminent, but confirmed that it was being considered. "It would only be done in the very long term and even if it does go ahead, it would only every be a secondary listed. It won't be leaving New York," the source said.

Reports over the weekend had suggested that confirmation of the plan could come as early as Friday when CCE's shareholders are likely to approve a plan to sell the company's North American unit to Coca Cola.

The agreement to offload the North American business was announced in February. The $15bn deal will see CCE given an option to Coca Cola's German bottling unit, and take over the soft drinks giant's bottling operations in parts of Scandinavia.

Once the deal is completed, the majority of CCE's assets will be Europe, a point that has led to speculation that a London listing would be more appropriate for the company.

The group employs 4,500 people in the UK, where is also has its European headquarters, in North West London.

CCE says that it produces more than 260 million cases of soft drinks in the UK every year. As well as Coca-Cola, its clients include the makers of Capri-Sun and Appletiser.