Cleary, Linklaters and Sullivan advise as Coca-Cola bottler exits Greece

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Linklaters and Sullivan & Cromwell have gained the lead roles as Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) moves to switch its main listing from Athens to London following the Greek-based Coca-Cola bottler’s credit downgrading by agencies in the wake of the country’s economic crisis.

coca-cola

As part of the complex deal, one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola soft drinks worldwide will delist from the Athens Stock Exchange and make the London Stock Exchange its primary listing destination. The company already has secondary listings in London and New York.

The team at Cleary, acting for Coca-Cola, is being led by capital markets and finance partner Raj Panasar and corporate partner Simon Jay from London, as well as New York-based M&A partner Christopher Austin. Sullivan & Cromwell is advising CCH, fielding London-based corporate finance partners Nikolaos Andronikos and Vanessa Blackmore alongside corporate partner Craig Jones and corporate finance partner George White, also based in London.

Linklaters is acting for Credit Suisse in its role as underwriter. Corporate partner James Inglis, capital markets partner Tom O’Neill and co-head of the firm’s leveraged finance team Brian Gray are leading the transaction.

CCH’s shareholders will duly exchange all of their stocks into shares of Coca Cola HBC, a Swiss-based company. Once the transaction is completed it will apply for a secondary parallel listing in Athens. Coca-Cola HBC shareholders hope the move will enhance liquidity.

CCH has consistently outperformed the general Athens index which slumped dramatically earlier this year due to the country’s debt crisis. In spite of its decision to switch its primary listing to London, CCH has maintained that it will continue to operate a corporate service centre in Greece.

Background to this deal:

Cleary has advised Coca-Cola on a number of transactions, including advising The Coca-Cola Company on its acquisition of the North American bottling operations of Coca-Cola Enterprise. Sullivan is also an established adviser to CCH, guiding it through deals since its listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 2002.

Panasar has acted on a large number of listings of foreign companies in London and is one of the primary lawyers acting on MegaFon’s proposed IPO (12 September 2012).

Linklaters has also worked on a number of Coca-Cola deals before, including Moscow partner Grigory Gadzhiev’s role as a lead adviser as Coca-Cola Hellenic acquired the Coca-Cola Export Corporation business in Russia.

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