Coca-Cola's Uzbeki bottling unit has resumed operations after 18 months, according to press reports. An official at the Uzpischeprom association, of which Coca-Cola Bottlers Uzbekistan Ltd. is a member, told Interfax late last week that the venture produced 500,000 litres of soft drinks in the first two months of this year.

The largest of the company's three plants in Uzbekistan, the Tashkent Soft Drinks Plant, is currently working one shift per day and is expected to increase production by the summer.

The company was formed in 1993 by the Coca-Cola Export Corporation, with a 42% stake, and state association Uzpischeprom, with a 57% holding. The remaining shares are held by small shareholders. Late last year, Uzbekistan's state property committee sold its stake in the venture to Muzimpex, a company controlled by US-based Zeromax, for around US15m.

The volume of production is dependent on financing from the new shareholder to buy drink concentrates, the source told Interfax.