CCHBC has eye on peer in Italy

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC), the world’s second-largest bottler of Coke products, confirmed yesterday it is interested in buying Italian bottler Socib. CCHBC said in a filing to the Athens bourse it is «in discussions regarding the possible acquisition of Socib Spa, the second-largest Coca-Cola franchise bottler in Italy,» but gave no further details. The Greek bottler has said in the past it is eyeing acquisition targets in Central Europe and Russia but had made no particular mention of Italy. Analysts welcomed news of the possible deal that would help CCHBC expand. «We highlight CCHBC’s superior structure relative to the rest of the region’s bottlers, while such an acquisition could deliver significant synergies, i.e. leverage on its distribution network,» Proton Bank said in a note. CCHBC’s shares fell 3.87 percent to 15.42 euros on the Athens bourse yesterday, underperforming a 1.18 percent slide on the Athens Exchange’s benchmark general index.