ECONOMY

Coca-Cola Hellenic departs Cyprus

Coca-Cola Hellenic, the world’s second-biggest Coke drinks bottler, plans to close its Cypriot soft-drink production facilities, importing beverages to Cyprus in order to cut costs, Cypriot labor unions said yesterday. Coca-Cola Hellenic’s Lanitis unit has decided «to close the soft-drink production and bottling line for cans and to end the [processing] of glass bottles,» the Cypriot PEO and SEK unions said in a joint e-mailed statement. Coca-Cola Hellenic bottles Coke products, water and juices in 27 European countries and in Nigeria. In the first half of the year, the company reported revenues of 3.3 billion euros and earnings before interest and tax of 320 million euros, up 3 percent year-on-year. No one was immediately available to comment at the company when contacted late yesterday. «We will have a meeting with the company’s management next week at the [Cyprus] Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance,» PEO general secretary Athos Eleftheriou told Bloomberg. «There is no chance that we will renegotiate two-year collective wage agreements that have been in place since January 1 and which are reasonable,» he said. Closing the Cypriot production facilities would lead to the loss of 24 jobs that would add to 33 redundancies since the beginning of last year, the PEO general secretary said. The production of soft drinks in Cyprus fell 4.4 percent in the eight months to August 31 to over 38.6 million liters, according to the Cyprus Statistical Service. Shares in Coca-Cola Hellenic, which has a market capitalization of just over 7 billion euros, have gained 6.08 percent on the Athens bourse in the last 30 days, outperforming a 9.17 percent drop in the broader market.