ECONOMY

CCHBC rejects proposal to transform Russian factory into a water-bottling facility

Coca-Cola HBC, the world’s second-largest Coke bottler, has rejected a proposal for the transformation of a Russian paper production plant into a bottling unit. The Athens-listed company currently owns 14 plants in Russia. Its official visited the plant in question after an invitation by the Russian Natural Resources Ministry and decided against undertaking its transformation into a drinking-water bottling facility. Russia’s deputy minister for natural resources, Oleg Mitvol, told the country’s state news agency that the Greek company seems to have been discouraged by the sheer size of the investment required for the plant’s transformation, as well as by the fact that the project has not attracted interest from any other company. Mitvol had stated last December that the plant release into Baikal Lake «unacceptable» quantities of polluting refuse. In related news, Coca-Cola HBC will announce its results for the first quarter of 2008 on May 8, with Eurobank stockbrokerage remaining positive about its prospects. In its stock report, Eurobank suggests that a combination of factors, such as the adverse weather conditions in key markets, the higher prices of raw materials and the challenges in the macroeconomic environments in Central and Eastern Europe will have an impact on demand for Coca-Cola’s products. However, the Catholic and Protestant Easter falling this year in Q1 could change the picture from last year. It estimates first-quarter net profits to grow at a lower rate than the 15.1 percent forecast for the whole of 2008.