CCHBC trims offer plans

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (CCHBC), the second largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world, said yesterday adverse equity market conditions had forced it to drop plans to launch a secondary offering but that it will proceed with a listing of American Depository Receipts on the New York Stock Exchange. On September 6, CCHBC said its two major shareholders, Socomex of the Kar-Tess Group, and Refreshment Product Services, a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company, planned to cut their respective stakes down to some 38 percent and 22 percent via a secondary offering of 5.5 percent of the company in conjunction with a listing in New York. Irial Finan, CCHBC managing director, said the two shareholders decided to pull the secondary offering because of the current market conditions. «Generally, volatility in stock markets has gotten particularly bad,» he said. Since the company announced its plans early this month, its stock has taken a battering, losing close to 20 percent of its value. Yesterday, it recovered by 6.23 percent to close at 13.98 euros. The slump showed investors had discounted the proposed secondary offering, said Vassilis Vlastarakis of Contalexis Financial Services. «Current market conditions are definitely not the best now,» he said, applauding CCHBC’s decision to put the secondary offering on hold. The move will have short-term benefits for shareholders although a potential overhang in the medium term «is clearly unhelpful,» Schroder Salomon Smith Barney wrote in a research note. This is the second time the company has canceled a secondary offering, the first was during the company’s merger when the Leventis family which controls Kar-Tess, unveiled its intentions. Finan said the ADR listing would «facilitate visibility and exposure» and «increase international peer group comparability» for CCHBC.