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GREECE: CCHBC seeks buyout deals in Europe, Russia

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Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling (CCHBC) is searching for buyout opportunities within the juice and water categories in central Europe and Russia.

Speaking to just-drinks today (17 December), a spokesperson for CCHBC said "we are looking for acquisitions to cover needs or gaps in our portfolio. Not just a juice company in central Europe and a water company in Russia, because one doesn't exclude the other. But in Russia, we already had a recent acquisition on juices, so it isn't a priority."

In March 2005, CCHBC teamed up with The Coca-Cola Company to acquire Multon, a leading Russian fruit juice producer. The transaction fee was in the region of EUR360m ($528.8m).

In what was described as part of CCHBC's "long-term growth strategy", the spokesperson said that the size of the buyouts had not been decided, adding: "There is nothing specific, just intent."

The spokesperson contributed to recent speculation over the rising costs of raw materials,  adding: "I can't confirm [prices] specifically next year. But I can say we will take pricing in line with inflation."

Last month, the Greece-based bottler said that operating profit for the period reached EUR581.4m (US$848.3m), up 33% on the corresponding period in 2006. The rise came on the back of growing sales, which totalled EUR4.79bn compared to EUR1.64bn a year earlier. Net income rose by 26% year-on-year to EUR336.8m.


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