Coca-Cola pulls out of the Athens Stock Exchange
The state of siege in which the Greek economy has fallen is leading the major Greek companies to leaving the country. Thus after FAGE, which moved its headquarters to Luxembourg,...
The state of siege in which the Greek economy has fallen is leading the major Greek companies to leaving the country. Thus after FAGE, which moved its headquarters to Luxembourg, Coca Cola is also pulling out of the Greek Stock Exchange. Before the opening of the ASE this morning it was announced that Coca Cola HBC AG filed a voluntary exchange tender offer to acquire all common shares of the Coca Cola Greek Bottling Company SA in exchange for shares of Coca Cola HBC.
The reason why the main shareholders of Coca Cola, the David family, proceeded to this act is the gathering and removal of the shares from ASE to introduce the Coca Cola Greek Bottling Company in the premium market of the London Stock Exchange.
The blow to the Greek stock market is crucial as Coca Cola had the largest market capitalization. After the collapse of bank shares, the industrial giant Coca Cola-3E is the showcase of the ASE, along with OTE and the salable OPAP.
Sources from the company spoke of renegotiation of the Coca Cola 3E share in the ASE and that this development does not mean withdrawal from Greece and does not signal plans to transfer its HQ abroad. The company's management remains in Greece and will continue to be taxed in the country.
However, no one can prejudge the importance of leaving the ASE in the future as for two years now, the management of the company has been warning the Greek government that it will leave the country because of excessive taxation and an increase in excise duty on soft drinks and waters. About 1.5 years ago, it moved its HRM center to Bulgaria.
The Coca Cola share was negotiated in Athens and the New York Stock Exchange. Now the trading center will be in London and its shares will be traded both on the NYSE and the ASE. Obviously no foreign investor will purchase shares from the Greek stock market and this will shrink the ASE turnover significantly and decrease its significance.
The reason that the company is moving from the ASE to the LSE is that it will be included in the index of the 100 largest stocks (FTSE 100), which will give the company better opportunities for access to cheap capital. This would have been difficult, if not impossible, while the company was burdened with the Greek risk.
Behind the deal is Credit Suisse, which did the ETE-Eurobank deal, and the whole project is coordinated by Stefanos Papanagiotou, the person from the Swiss bank in London responsible for Greece.
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