Coca-Cola Hellenic has lined up the purchase of Socib in Italy.

The Greece-based company confirmed today (6 August) that it will buy Socib, the second largest Coca-Cola franchise bottler in Italy, for EUR270m (US$416.5m) including debt.

The purchase will expand Coca-Cola Hellenic's footprint in Italy through the addition of five regions in Southern Italy, the company said, and will increase the scale of Coca-Cola Hellenic's operations in Italy by roughly 25% in terms of volume.

"Socib has built a strong franchise, and we see significant opportunities in combining the two businesses," said Coca-Cola Hellenic's managing director, Doros Constantinou. "This transaction is consistent with Coca-Cola Hellenic's long term objective of delivering superior growth and returns for shareholders through the continued extension of our proven business model into new territories and product categories."

Socib's CEO, Fabrizio Capua, will become chairman of Coca-Cola Hellenic's enlarged Italian business while Dario Rinero, Hellenic's current managing director in Italy, will assume executive responsibility for the company's entire Italian operations.

Socib, with four plants and its own distribution network, had revenues of EUR260m (US$409.4m) in 2003, according to the company's website.