Coca-Cola Hellenic leaves Greece for Switzerland

After retail and institutional investors, it’s the turn of international corporates to leave Greece for a Continental European destination, as questions over the country’s future in the eurozone haven’t been settled yet.

Coca-Cola Hellenic, the world’s second-largest Coke bottler has confirmed plans to move its headquarters to Switzerland and its primary listing to London.

According to chief executive Dimitris Lois, a London listing would be a better fit for the company, which from Greece operates in 28 countries.

He added that his firm is also looking for more stability.

Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling (CCHBC) will swap shares with Swiss-based Coca-Cola HBC AG, a newly-formed company.

“We are a Greek multinational company having its headquarters in Switzerland,” Lois added.

The decision is aimed at reducing risks for investors, as Coca-Cola Hellenic’s listings in London and New York are largely illiquid and foreign investors must settle trades in Athens.

Their funds could be frozen if Greece were to exit the euro or impose capital controls.

The move could instead attract bond investors, afterStandard & Poor’s downgraded the issuer’s credit rating to BBB+ in June on grounds of greater economic and political pressures at home.

The company is the country’s biggest firm by market value with a capitalisation f around €6bn, representing about a fifth of the Athens bourse’s total.

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