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Greece

Greece's largest company leaves for Switzerland

Coca Cola Hellenic has confirmed it will shift its corporate base from Greece to Switzerland. The move of Greece's largest company is another blow to the nation which stands to lose millions in revenues.

The biggest company in Greece, Coca Cola Hellenic, announced on Friday that it will leave the country in search of a more stable business and taxation environment. CCH has the largest market value of all firms active in Greece and has a capitalization of roughly 6 billion euros ($7.7 billion).

The company confirmed that it will move its corporate headquarters to Switzerland and transfer its primary listing from Athens to the London Stock Exchange.

"The main reason for the move is taxes and the fact that since Greek banks are waiting to be recapitalized, they no longer have money to lend to companies," the firm said in a statement.

Corporate exodus?

The Greek Coca Cola unit has been the firm's second-largest bottler, serving 28 countries mostly in northern and eastern Europe. Management said the production facilities themselves would not be affected, but the government stood to lose more than 20 million euros annually in tax revenues.

Greek Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis said he was not happy about the departure. "But I cannot dictate to each company what moves it should make or not," he said. "What we can do beyond the fiscal measures is continue down the road of structural reforms."

Earlier this week, the Greek dairy giant FAGE announced it was moving its headquarters to Luxembourg, also in search of lower and more predictable taxes and a low-volatility corporate base.

hg/mz (Reuters, dpa)