Athens-based soft drinks bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC) is to form a joint venture partnership with Coca-Cola and the Italian coffee company Illycaffè to market ready-to-drink coffee.

CCHBC said it had signed a letter of intent with Coke to allow the formation of a three way joint venture with Illycaffè. The new joint venture company will produce, market and sell premium ready-to-drink coffee across CCHBC's territories.

The move follows the announcement by Coke last month that it had established a global joint venture with Illycaffè.

CCHBC said negotiations relating to the precise structure of the joint venture would be concluded by early next year. The deal is also subject to regulatory approval.

"Ready-to-drink coffee is a small but high-growth high-value category in most of our markets," said CCHBC managing director Doros Constantinou. "The formation of this joint venture will combine the strengths of the Coca-Cola System around marketing, customer relationships, and route-to market capabilities with Illy a premium coffee brand. Furthermore, this joint venture will further strengthen our premium product offering and will allow us to maximise its potential working with two very strong partners who share the same vision as ourselves."