Exclusive: Coke Bottler Eyes FTSE-100
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Coca-Cola Hellenic, which is headquartered in Greece but generates only a small proportion of its profits in the troubled Eurozone country, has appointed bankers, lawyers and other advisers to prepare for the transition.
If it goes ahead, it could catapult the bottler of Sprite and other soft drinks straight into the blue-chip FTSE 100 index based on Coca-Cola Hellenic's market value in Athens.
Sources close to the situation say that Coca-Cola Hellenic has been holding talks with the UK Listing Authority in recent weeks about securing a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange.
The Greek-based company already has an inactive London listing as a legacy of a merger 12 years ago involving Coca-Cola Beverages and the Athens-based Hellenic Bottling Company.
Coca-Cola Hellenic now operates in 28 countries across Europe and Africa, producing more than 2bn cases of soft drink and generating more than £5bn in sales last year.
A switch of its main stock market listing to London would bring a company part-owned by one of the world's most famous brands to the City. It is unclear whether this would entail ditching its Athens listing altogether, and any announcement is likely to be some weeks away.
Difficult economic conditions have stemmed the flow of new share offerings this year. One of the largest, that of the insurer Direct Line Group, was announced on Friday.
A research note issued this week by Jefferies, the investment bank, alluded to the prospect of Coca-Cola Hellenic reviving its London listing.
"The obvious concern with a Greek listing is the risk that Greece exits the Euro and investors are left holding shares in a new (presumably seriously devalued) currency rather than Euros," it said.
"Speaking about the London listing, management said: 'This is still work in progress, and we are reviewing whether and to what extent we can simplify the clearing and settlement process in the LSE in order to make it far more efficient for our investors.'
"We would view an additional listing in London as a positive step for the company, alleviating most concerns around a Greek exit of the Eurozone, increasing liquidity and making the stock more marketable to a wider international investor base."
Coca-Cola Hellenic, which has hired the London-based public relations firm RLM Finsbury to advise it, declined to comment.