The Coca-Cola Co. is set to return to Iraq after more than 20 years. The company's Turkish partner yesterday (28 June) confirmed plans to set up a new bottler for neighbouring Iraq, the first for the country since Coke closed its operations in the country at the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980.

In a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange, Efes Invest Holland, a company owned by Turkey's Efes Sinai Investment Holding, said that it has created a new firm with Iraq's H.M.B.S. to be headquartered in Dubai.

"With the aim of continuing our dynamic and profitable growth … a new company with the name The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Iraq FZCO has been set up," the statement said.

The new company has signed an agreement with the US soft drinks giant to be its sole distributor and seller in Iraq from 1 July, it said. It has also sealed another deal with the Coca-Cola Co. giving it the option to acquire the Iraqi market's full production and bottling rights within two years, Efes said.

Speaking to Reuters, a company official in Istanbul said: "This shows our intention to establish the first bottling operation since 1980."

Coca-Cola drinks are presently imported into Iraq from Jordan, Turkey and other neighbouring countries, Reuters noted. Efes Sinai Investment is the leading distributor of Coke's products in Central Asia.