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Greek bottling family business to leave country

Greek bottling company Coca-Cola Hellenic, controlled by the David-Leventis family, plans to leave Greece, move its headquarters to Switzerland and list in London.

Greek bottling company Coca-Cola Hellenic, controlled by the David-Leventis family, plans to leave Greece, move its headquarters to Switzerland and list in London.

The family business, known for bottling Coke in 28 countries from Russia to Nigeria, said in a statement on 11 October that the move will benefit both the company and shareholders.

“A premium listing on the [London Stock Exchange] and potential inclusion in the FTSE 100 reflects the international nature of our business and our shareholder base,” non-family Dimitris Lois, chief executive of Coca-Cola Hellenic, said in the release.

The David-Leventis family currently owns 23.3% of the group through Kar-Tess Holding, while Coca-Cola owns another 23%. The rest is floated on the Athens Stock Exchange.

A new Switzerland-based company called Coca-Cola HBC will be created, said the statement – investors can swap all their shares on a one-for-one basis for shares in the Swiss group.

Following the announcement, ratings agency Fitch said Hellenic’s move is a “limited precedent for other eurozone corporates, despite incentives to reduce share price discounts or protect against the risk of a full-blown sovereign crisis”.

The firm, chaired by family member George David, had revenues of €6.85 billion in 2011, up from €6.79 billion the year before. But its profits saw a hit, falling almost 30% to around €460 million.

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