Athens, Greece – August 19, 2003 – Coca‑Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. (Coca‑Cola HBC, CCHBC), today announced its intention to improve the efficiency of its capital structure through a leveraged re-capitalisation, which will result in a capital return of €2 per share to all shareholders.
The record date (the date at which registered shareholders will qualify for this return of capital) will be announced once the relevant regulatory approvals have been obtained.
Coca‑Cola HBC’s Board of Directors has approved the plan and believes the proposed re-capitalisation is appropriate for the following reasons:
• Underlying business continues to be strong as evidenced by the company’s performance in the first half of 2003 and the revised guidance for the full year also announced today
• CCHBC’s financial ratios remain strong post the leveraged re-capitalisation
• S&P reaffirmed CCHBC’s long term credit rating of A and short term rating of A-1
• Proposed re-capitalisation plan will lower CCHBC’s Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) by approximately 50 basis points
• CCHBC’s operational activities, strategic priorities and performance goals remain unaffected
Today Coca‑Cola HBC has invited shareholders to attend an Extraordinary General Assembly on 15 September 2003 to approve a share capital increase through the capitalisation of reserves of €518 million. Following receipt of the required approvals, a second Extraordinary General Assembly will be called to approve a share capital decrease of €473 million and a capital return of €2 per share to all shareholders.
The capital return will be funded through the international debt capital markets and Coca‑Cola HBC expects that subject to receipt of the required approvals, the transaction will be finalised in the fourth quarter of 2003.
Irial Finan, Managing Director of CCHBC commented: “We believe that this is the right move, at the right time, to increase the efficiency of the group’s capital structure, whilst delivering returns to our shareholders. There will be no operational or strategic impact on Coca‑Cola HBC, and our financial ratios and credit ratings remain strong. We are excited about the future prospects of our business, and we remain focused on its tight management. This transaction is a good example of our commitment to rapidly grow shareholder returns in both the short and the longer term”.
Coca‑Cola HBC is one of the world's largest bottlers of products of The Coca‑Cola Company and has operations in 26 countries serving a population of more than 500 million people. CCHBC shares are listed on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE:EEEK), with secondary listings on the London (LSE:CCB) and Australian (ASX:CHB) Stock Exchanges. CCHBC’s American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:CCH).
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