Maybe it was the soaring unemployment, or possibly the deep debt crisis. But as Greece struggles with its myriad troubles, its largest company, Coca-Cola Hellenic, is jumping ship to more stable ground.
The company, one of the world’s largest Coke bottlers, is the biggest Greece-based company by market value, at $7.6 billion. But on Thursday, the company said it is switching its main stock listing from Athens to London and relocating its corporate headquarters to Switzerland as it looks to “enhance liquidity” for shareholders.
Just imagine the sting if Apple bailed on the U.S. and relocated abroad.
In Switzerland, known for its business-friendly tax policies, Coca-Cola Hellenic hopes to find a “stable economic and regulatory environment and ease of doing business.”
And listing on the London Stock Exchange, using a share exchange with Swiss firm Coca Cola HBC AG, will put Coca-Cola Hellenic on what it calls the “largest and most liquid exchange in Europe.”
The moves will give the company “access to both the international equity and debt capital markets and increase its flexibility in raising new funds to support its operations and future growth,” it said in a statement.
Coca-Cola Hellenic said it will keep production and distribution of its products in Greece and will continue to operate its Group Corporate Service Center, which aids the company’s work in 28 countries, in Athens.
“The Coca-Cola Hellenic Group’s commitment to Greece will remain unaffected,” the company’s statement said. “There will be no impact on jobs, compensation or benefits for any employees of the Coca-Cola Hellenic Group as a result of the transaction.”
Greek dairy group Fage, which is known for its yogurts, said earlier this month that it is moving out of the embattled Eurozone country to Luxembourg.
For the 35th month in a row, Greece’s unemployment rate was above 25% in July.