COCA COLA HELLENIC BOTTLING CO 20-F 2007
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 20-F
o REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended: December 31, 2006
o TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
o SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report:
Commission file number: 1-31466
COCA-COLA EΛΛHNIKH ETAIPEIA
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
COCA-COLA HELLENIC BOTTLING COMPANY S.A.
(Translation of Registrants name into English)
THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
9 Fragoklissias Street
(Address of principal executive offices)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934:
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934: None
Number of outstanding shares of each of the Registrants classes of capital or common stock as at December 31, 2006, the close of the period covered by the annual report:
242,067,916 ordinary shares of nominal value 0.50 per ordinary share
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See definition of accelerated filer and large accelerated filer in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
This annual report contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, in particular under Item 3D, Risk Factors, Item 4, Information on the Company and Item 5, Operating and Financial Review and Prospects. In some cases, we use words such as believe, outlook, guidance, intend, expect, anticipate, plan, target and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical facts, including, among others, statements regarding our future financial position and results, business strategy, the effects of our recent acquisitions on our business and financial condition, our future dealings with The Coca-Cola Company, budgets, projected levels of consumption and production, projected raw and packaging materials and other costs, estimates of capital expenditure and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they reflect our current expectations and assumptions as to future events and circumstances that may not prove accurate. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements for many reasons, including the risks described under Item 3D, Risk Factors included elsewhere in this annual report.
We believe that, as of the date of this annual report, these forward-looking statements are reasonable. However, we cannot assure you that our future results, level of activity, performance or achievements will meet the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements. Moreover, neither we nor any other person assume responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the forward-looking statements. Unless we are required by law to update these statements, we will not necessarily update any of these statements after the date of this annual report, either to conform them to actual results or for changes in our expectations.
Our financial year is January 1 to December 31. We prepare our financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (United States), or US GAAP. This annual report includes our audited consolidated balance sheets as at December 31, 2006 and 2005, and the related consolidated statements of income, shareholders equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2006.
In 2002, the European Council adopted a regulation requiring European Union publicly-traded companies to prepare financial statements under International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, effective for the fiscal year commencing January 1, 2005. In line with such European Union regulation, Greek legislation has provided that Greek publicly-traded companies prepare their statutory financial statements in accordance with IFRS as adopted by the European Union, with effect from January 1, 2005.
In this annual report, references to euro and are to the lawful currency of the member states of the European Union that adopted the single currency in accordance with the Treaty Establishing the European Community (signed in Rome on March 25, 1957), as amended by the Treaty of European Union signed in Maastricht on February 7, 1992. Greece adopted the euro as its lawful currency as of January 1, 2001, at the irrevocably fixed exchange rate of 1.00 = 340.75 Greek drachmas. The following countries in which we operate have also adopted the euro as their lawful currency: Austria, Italy, Montenegro, the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia.
All references to $ and dollars are to the lawful currency of the United States. You should read Item 3A, Key InformationSelected Financial DataExchange rate information for historical information regarding the exchange rates between the euro and the US dollar based on the noon buying rates in The City of New York for cable transfers in euro, as certified for customs purposes by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. No representation is made that euro or US dollar amounts referred to in this annual report have been, could have been or could be converted into US dollars or euro at these particular rates or at any rates at all. Solely for convenience, this annual report contains translations of certain euro balances into US dollars at specified rates. These are simply translations, and you should not expect that a euro amount actually represents a stated US dollar amount or that it could be converted into US dollars at specified rates. In this annual report, the translations of euro into US dollars have been made at a rate of 1.00 = $1.3365, being the exchange rate between the euro and the US dollar as of June 15, 2007.
Unless otherwise specified, sales volume is measured in terms of unit cases sold. A unit case equals 5.678 liters or 24 servings of 8 US fluid ounces each. The unit case is the typical volume measure used in our industry.
Unless otherwise indicated, any statements included in this annual report regarding our competitive position are based on information obtained from CANADEAN. In particular, see Item 4B, Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewOur operations.
The summary financial information (statement of operations, cash flow, balance sheet, and share and per share data, cash operating profit and reconciliation of net income to cash operating profit) set forth below for the five year period ended December 31, 2006 has been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements prepared in accordance with US GAAP. Our consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2006 and 2005, and the related consolidated statements of income, shareholders equity and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2006, are included elsewhere in this annual report.
We define cash operating profit, or COP, as operating profit before deductions for depreciation (included both in cost of goods sold and in selling, delivery and administrative expenses), impairment charges, stock option compensation and amortization of intangible assets. COP serves as an additional indicator of our operating performance and not as a replacement for measures such as cash flows from operating activities and operating profit as defined and required under US GAAP. We believe that COP is useful to investors as a measure of operating performance because it reflects the underlying operating cash costs by eliminating depreciation and amortization of intangible assets. In addition, we believe that COP is a measure commonly used by analysts and investors in our industry and that current shareholders and potential investors in our company use multiples of COP in making investment decisions about our company. Accordingly, we have disclosed this information to permit a more complete analysis of our operating performance. COP, as we calculate it, may not be comparable to similarly titled measures reported by other companies.
You should read the following summary financial information together with Item 5, Operating and Financial Review and Prospects and our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes included in this annual report.
(1) Convenience translation figures are translated at the June 15, 2007 noon buying rate for euro of 1.00 = $1.3365. The translation to US dollars has been provided solely for the purposes of convenience and should not be construed as a representation that the amounts represent, or have been or could be converted into US dollars at that or any other rate.
(2) The proposed dividends for the years ended December 31, 2002 to December 31, 2006 were declared and paid in the subsequent year.
(3) On August 19, 2003, we announced our intention to effect a leveraged re-capitalization with a view towards improving the efficiency of our capital structure. In connection with the leveraged re-capitalization, we held an extraordinary general meeting on September 15, 2003, which approved a share capital increase through the capitalization of 518.3 million of additional paid-in capital (reflecting an increase of the par value of ordinary shares from 0.31 to 2.50 per ordinary share). This capital increase was approved by the Greek Ministry of Development on September 24, 2003 and consummated on October 1, 2003, with the payment of certain related taxes. On October 1, 2003, the board of directors called a second extraordinary general meeting which took place on October 31, 2003 and which approved a share capital decrease of 473.3 million (reflecting a decrease of the par value of ordinary shares from 2.50 to 0.50 per ordinary share) and the return of 2.00 per ordinary share to all shareholders of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. The capital decrease was approved by the Greek Ministry of Development on November 10, 2003 and the Athens Stock Exchange was duly notified at its board meeting of November 14, 2003. The capital return payment to shareholders began on December 5, 2003. As at December 31, 2003, 472.9 million had been returned to shareholders. The leveraged re-capitalization resulted in a capital return of 2.00 per ordinary share to all shareholders of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. The capital return and the payment of taxes and related expenses of 4.0 million were financed with the net proceeds from the offering of $900.0 million notes. These notes were issued in September 2003, by Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. through Coca-Cola HBC Finance B.V. in an aggregate principal amount of $500.0 million due in 2013 and in an aggregate principal amount of $400.0 million due in 2015. In December 2003, an exchange offer was made by Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. in order to affect the exchange of the privately placed notes for similar notes registered with the SEC. Acceptances under the offer, which was finalized in February 2004, were $898.1 million.
(4) Effective January 1, 2006, the Company adopted the fair value recognition provisions of Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Statement No. 123 (R), Stock Option Compensation, using the modified-prospective transition method. Further details can be found in note 20 of our consolidated financial statements.
The table below shows the low, high, average and period-end noon buying rates for the years 2002 to 2006 in the City of New York for cable transfers in euro as certified for customs purposes by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for dollars per 1.00. The average is computed using the noon buying rate on the last business day of each month during the period indicated.
The table below shows the low, high, average and period-end noon buying rates for euro for each month during the six months prior to the date of this annual report.
Our articles of association and Greek corporate law govern the payment of dividends. Dividends are paid to our shareholders out of net income. The relevant amounts are calculated based on our
unconsolidated financial statements. Prior to the payment of any dividends, we are required by Greek law to allocate an amount of at least 5% of our net income (on an unconsolidated basis) to a statutory reserve account until this reserve equals at least one-third of our total share capital. The total amount to be distributed with respect to any financial year must not be less than 35% of net income (on an unconsolidated basis and after first subtracting any allocation to the abovementioned statutory reserve account) or 6% of paid-up share capital, whichever is higher. These statutory provisions may be overridden in certain circumstances, subject to obtaining the necessary supermajority approval by our shareholders.
We are required by Greek law to convene our annual general meeting within six months after the end of our fiscal year for our shareholders to approve our financial statements and the distribution of a dividend for the previous fiscal year. We are required to commence payment of any dividend approved for distribution to our shareholders within seven working days of the record date for the payment of dividends, as determined and published by our company. You should read Item 10B, Additional InformationMemorandum and Articles of AssociationDividends for additional information on the requirements of Greek law and our articles of association for the allocation of dividends.
As our business evolves to deliver more stable and predictable cash flows, we believe it is appropriate also for our dividend policy to evolve for the benefit of our shareholders. Consequently, we declared a dividend for 2006 of 0.32 per share, a 6.7% increase over the dividends declared in respect of 2005. We will seek to maintain dividends within a pay-out ratio of 20-30% of income with at least a 5% per annum dividend per share increase.
The following table shows the amounts paid or payable to the holders of our ordinary shares both on a per share basis and in the aggregate for each of the past five fiscal years. Dividends paid historically are not necessarily representative of dividends to be paid in the future.
(1) Based on the actual number of ordinary shares in issue as of the dividend record date.
(2) The US dollar amounts are based on the noon buying rate for euro on June 15, 2007, which was 1.00 = $1.3365.
In December 2003, we made a capital return payment to our shareholders of 2.00 per ordinary share as part of a leveraged re-capitalization. For additional information on the leveraged re-capitalization see Selected Financial Data above, as well as Item 5, Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsMajor recent transactions.
We pay dividends solely in euro. The Depositary will convert any dividends on ordinary shares represented by ADSs into US dollars if it can do so on a reasonable basis and can transfer the proceeds to the United States. Fluctuations in the exchange rate between the euro and the US dollar will affect the US dollar amounts received by holders of ADSs upon conversion by the Depositary of cash dividends paid in euro on the ordinary shares represented by the ADSs.
You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below. You should also refer to the other information set out in this annual report, including our audited consolidated financial statements and the related notes. The risks and uncertainties described below are those that we currently believe may materially affect our company and any investment you make in our company. If these events occur, the trading price of our ordinary shares and ADSs could decline. Additional risks and uncertainties that do not currently exist or that we are unaware of may also become important factors that adversely affect our company and your investment.
If The Coca-Cola Company exercises its right to terminate our bottlers agreements, upon the occurrence of certain events, or is unwilling to renew these agreements, our net sales revenue may decline dramatically. In addition, if The Coca-Cola Company is unwilling to renew our bottlers agreements on terms at least as favorable to us as the current terms, our net sales revenue could also be adversely affected.
Our bottlers agreements with The Coca-Cola Company are fundamental to our business. The trademarked beverages of The Coca-Cola Company represented approximately 93% of our total sales volume in 2006. We produce, sell and distribute The Coca-Cola Companys trademarked beverages pursuant to standard bottlers agreements with The Coca-Cola Company covering each of our territories. The bottlers agreements include limitations on our degree of exclusivity in our territories and, to the extent permitted by law, on our ability to market competing brands not owned by The Coca-Cola Company in our countries outside the European Economic Area. The European Economic Area comprises the member states of the European Union as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
We enter into bottlers agreements with The Coca-Cola Company for each of our territories. Each of our bottlers agreements has a fixed initial term. These agreements, the terms of which were extended with effect as from January 1, 2004 and all of which expire in December 2013, may be renewed, at The Coca-Cola Companys discretion, until 2023. The bottler agreement for our newly acquired subsidiary in Cyprus has been extended by The Coca-Cola Company until March 2008 and we are currently negotiating with The Coca-Cola Company in order to obtain a bottler agreement for that territory with the same terms (including duration) as those that apply in our other territories. Accordingly, our business is dependent on The Coca-Cola Companys willingness to renew our bottlers agreements when they expire. In addition, The Coca-Cola Company has the right to terminate our bottlers agreements upon the occurrence of certain events. You should read Item 7B, Major Shareholders and Related Party TransactionsRelated Party TransactionsOur relationship with The Coca-Cola Company for a description of the circumstances under which The Coca-Cola Company may terminate its bottlers agreements with us. If The Coca-Cola Company exercises its right to terminate the bottlers agreements upon the occurrence of certain events, or, if upon expiration of their initial term, The Coca-Cola Company is unwilling to renew these agreements, our sales will decline dramatically. In addition, if The Coca-Cola Company is unwilling to renew our bottlers agreements on terms at least as favorable to us as the current terms, our net sales revenue could also be adversely affected.
The Coca-Cola Company could exercise its rights under the bottlers agreements in a manner that would make it difficult for us to achieve our financial goals.
Our bottlers agreements govern our purchases of concentrate, which represents our most significant raw materials cost. The Coca-Cola Company determines the price we pay for concentrate at its discretion. In particular, The Coca-Cola Company may seek to increase concentrate prices in our eleven countries that entered the European Union in 2004 and in 2007 in order to bring concentrate prices in those countries in line with the rest of the European Union. The Coca-Cola Company normally increases concentrate prices after discussions with us so as to reflect trading conditions in the relevant country. The Coca-Cola Company has other important rights under the bottlers agreements, including the right, to the extent permitted by local law, to set the maximum price we may charge to our customers in countries outside the European Economic Area and the right to approve our suppliers of certain packaging and other raw materials. The combination of The Coca-Cola Companys right to set our concentrate prices and its right to limit our selling prices in some of our countries could give The Coca-Cola Company considerable influence over our profit margins and the results of our operations.
We cannot assure that The Coca-Cola Companys objective to maximize revenue from sales of concentrate will in all cases be fully aligned with our objective to realize profitable volume growth. It is thus possible that The Coca-Cola Company could exercise its rights under the bottlers agreements to determine concentrate prices, to set maximum prices we may charge to customers outside the European Economic Area and to approve certain of our suppliers in a manner that would make it difficult for us to achieve our financial goals.
The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company have substantial influence over the conduct of our business and their interests may differ from the interests of other shareholders.
The Kar-Tess Group currently owns approximately 29.7% and The Coca-Cola Company currently indirectly owns approximately 23.4% of our outstanding share capital. The Coca-Cola Company holds its shares through five companies which constitute The Coca-Cola Company Entities: Coca-Cola Overseas Parent Limited, The Coca-Cola Export Corporation, Barlan, Inc. and Refreshment Product Services, Inc., each a Delaware company, and Atlantic Industries, a Cayman Islands company. In connection with the acquisition of Coca-Cola Beverages plc in August 2000, The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company Entities entered into a shareholders agreement that governs certain aspects of their relationship. The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company Entities have agreed to maintain their combined shareholdings during the term of the shareholders agreement at over 50% of our outstanding share capital and The Coca-Cola Company Entities have agreed to maintain their shareholding at no less than 22%. Under their shareholders agreement, The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company Entities have also agreed that, based on a ten-member board of directors, The Coca-Cola Company would be represented by two directors and The Kar-Tess Group would be represented by four directors. The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company Entities have also agreed that they will each vote their shares so as to maintain their respective proportional representation on our board in the event the number of directors increases or decreases. The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company Entities have agreed to nominate the remaining directors jointly. Our board of directors currently consists of twelve members. No party or group of parties may unilaterally terminate the shareholders agreement prior to December 2008. However, at any time the parties may agree to terminate the shareholders agreement, which would also be terminated if we cease to exist or if one group of parties elects to terminate it upon breach of the agreement by the other group of parties. After December 2008, the shareholders agreement will remain in force unless terminated by either group of parties on three months written notice.
These arrangements give The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company significant influence over our business and enables them, together, to determine the outcome of all actions requiring approval
by our board of directors and the outcome of corporate actions that require shareholder approval, with the exception of matters requiring an extraordinary quorum and supermajority approval. You should read Item 7B, Major Shareholders and Related Party TransactionsRelated Party TransactionsThe shareholders agreement between The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company Entities for a description of the shareholders agreement and Item 10B, Additional InformationMemorandum and Articles of AssociationMatters requiring extraordinary quorum and supermajority approval for additional information on the matters requiring extraordinary quorum and supermajority approval.
The interests of The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company may differ from those of other shareholders. As a result of their influence on our business, The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company could prevent us from making certain decisions or taking certain actions that would protect the interests of shareholders other than The Coca-Cola Company and The Kar-Tess Group or which would benefit us. For example, they might vote against an acquisition of us by a third party, meaning our other shareholders would not receive the premium over the then-current market price of our ordinary shares that they might otherwise receive upon such an acquisition. You should read Item 7, Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions for additional information on our relationship with The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company and Item 10B, Additional InformationMemorandum and Articles of AssociationMatters requiring extraordinary quorum and supermajority approval for information on the rights of majority and minority shareholders pursuant to our articles of association and under Greek law.
Our success depends in part on The Coca-Cola Companys success in marketing and product development activities.
We depend on The Coca-Cola Company to protect its trademarks.
Brand recognition is critical in attracting consumers to our products. In each country in which we operate, The Coca-Cola Company owns the trademarks of all of its products which we produce, distribute and sell. We rely on The Coca-Cola Company to protect its trademarks in the countries where we operate, which include some countries that offer less comprehensive intellectual property protection than the United States and the European Union. If The Coca-Cola Company fails to protect its proprietary rights against infringement or misappropriation, this could undermine the competitive position of the products of The Coca-Cola Company and could lead to a significant decrease in the volume of products of The Coca-Cola Company that we sell. Since trademarked beverages of The Coca-Cola Company represent a high proportion of our total sales volume, this would materially and adversely affect our results of operations.
Weaker consumer demand for carbonated soft drinks, or CSDs, could harm our revenues and profitability.
At the present time, our revenues and profitability remain substantially dependent upon sales of our core CSD products, particularly in our established countries. Although per capita consumption of CSDs in our established countries has generally continued to increase, the rate of increase has slowed down in recent years. This weakening of consumer demand for CSDs can be explained, in part, by demographic trends. Teenagers and young people account for the majority of CSD consumption in our established countries. Currently, these countries are experiencing declining birth rates and ageing populations, which reduce the number of people in those age groups that traditionally are most likely to consume CSD products.
Another trend adversely affecting growth in CSD consumption in our established countries is the increased consumer focus on well-being, health and fitness, as well as concerns about obesity. Some consumers perceive non-CSD beverages such as juices, waters, sports and energy drinks to be more closely associated with a healthier life style. Consequently, consumption of these alternative beverages is growing at a faster rate than consumption of CSDs. While this trend is most pronounced in our established countries, it also exists to some extent in our developing and emerging countries. If this trend toward alternative beverages becomes more prevalent in our developing and emerging countries, it could harm prospects for future profitable growth in the CSD category.
If any of these trends impedes profitable growth in consumption of our core CSD brands, this could severely impair our business and prospects.
Our growth prospects may be harmed if we are unable to expand successfully in the non-CSD segment.
We believe that the non-CSD category offers significant growth potential. We intend, together with The Coca-Cola Company, to expand our product offerings in this category, which includes juices, waters, sports and energy drinks and other ready-to-drink beverages, such as teas or coffees. Expanding our presence in this highly competitive category will require The Coca-Cola Company to spend significantly on consumer marketing, brand promotion and/or brand acquisition and us to invest significantly in production, sales, distribution development and/or business acquisitions. We cannot assure you that The Coca-Cola Company will successfully develop and promote new non-CSD brands or that we will be able to increase our sales of new non-CSD products. If we are unable to expand in the non-CSD category, our growth prospects may be harmed.
The lack of institutional continuity and safeguards in our emerging and developing countries could adversely affect our competitive position, increase our cost of regulatory compliance and/or expose us to a heightened risk of loss due to fraud and criminal activity.
While our emerging and developing countries are in the process of transition to market economies, stable political institutions and comprehensive regulatory systems, some of them lack the institutional continuity and strong procedural and regulatory safeguards typical in our established countries. As a result, in these countries we are exposed to regulatory uncertainty in areas such as customs duties for concentrate, which could increase our cost of regulatory compliance, and we enjoy less comprehensive protection for some of our rights, including intellectual property rights, which could undermine our competitive position.
The lack of institutional continuity also exacerbates the effect of political uncertainty in our emerging and developing countries and could adversely affect the orderly operation of markets and consumer purchasing power. In addition, in countries with a large and complicated structure of government and administration, such as the Russian Federation, national, regional, local and other governmental bodies may issue inconsistent decisions and opinions that could increase our cost of regulatory compliance.
Finally, we operate in some countries where corruption historically has been a problem. It is our policy to comply with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar regulations. This may put us at a competitive disadvantage against competitors that are not subject to, or do not comply with, the same regulations. In addition, in some of the environments in which we operate, businesses like ours are exposed to a heightened risk of loss due to fraud and criminal activity, even though we review our financial systems regularly in order to minimize such losses.
Adverse economic conditions in our emerging and developing countries could adversely affect demand for our products.
From time to time some of our emerging and developing countries have experienced difficult economic conditions, including relatively low levels of per capita gross domestic product, or GDP, high inflation or hyper-inflation and high levels of unemployment. In particular, Nigeria has faced political, social and economic unrest in recent years, including prolonged strikes and several fuel shortages, which all together adversely affected our sales volume in that country.
Adverse economic conditions in our emerging and developing countries may hurt consumer confidence and purchasing power, resulting in reduced consumption generally or increased demand for local non-premium brands, which are typically of lower quality, but more affordable than our brands. This could adversely affect demand for our products. In addition, our customers may face difficulties in making payment for goods purchased due to unfavorable economic conditions.
The sustainability of our growth in our developing and emerging countries depends partly on our ability to attract and retain sufficient number of qualified and experienced personnel for which there is strong demand.
In recent years, we have been experiencing significant growth in a number of our developing and emerging countries. As our business continues to grow, macro-economic conditions continue to improve and the level of our investment in such countries increases, we are faced with the challenge of being able to attract and retain a sufficient number of qualified and experienced personnel in an increasingly competitive labor market. Our ability to sustain our growth in these countries may be hindered if we are unable to successfully meet this challenge.
Competition law enforcement by the European Union and national authorities may have a significant adverse effect on our competitiveness and results of operations.
Our business is subject to the competition laws of the countries in which we operate and, with respect to our activities affecting the European Union, is also subject to EU competition law. The admission in 2004 and 2007 to the European Union of eleven of the European countries in which we operate has increased the impact of EU competition law on our business.
On June 29, 2005, the Greek Competition Authority requested the Company to provide information on our commercial practices as a result of a complaint by certain third parties regarding our level of compliance with its decision of January 25, 2002, which imposed a fine on us for certain discount and rebate practices and required changes with respect to placing coolers in certain locations and lending them free of charge. On October 7, 2005, we were served with notice to appear before the Greek Competition Authority. On June 14, 2006, the Greek Competition Authority issued a decision imposing a daily penalty of 5,869 for each day that we failed to comply with the decision of January 25, 2002. The Greek Competition Authority imposed this penalty for the period from February 1, 2002 to February 16, 2006, resulting in a total penalty of 8.7 million. On August 31, 2006, we deposited an amount of 8.9 million, reflecting the amount of the fine and applicable tax, with the Greek authorities. This deposit was a prerequisite to filing an appeal pursuant to Greek law. As a result of this deposit, we have increased the charge to our financial statements in connection with this case to 8.9 million. We believe that we have
substantial legal and factual defenses to the Authoritys decision. You should read Item 8A, Financial InformationConsolidated Statements and Other Financial InformationLegal proceedings for additional information.
We cannot predict if competition law enforcement by the European Union or national competition authorities will result in significant fines being imposed upon us or result in adverse publicity, or require us to change our commercial practices or whether related private lawsuits could require us to pay significant amounts in damages. Any of these outcomes could limit our competitiveness and adversely affect our operating results.
We are engaged in a highly competitive business. Adverse actions by our competitors or other changes in the competitive environment may adversely affect our results of operations.
The non-alcoholic beverages business is highly competitive in each of our countries. We compete with, among others, bottlers of other international or regional brands of non-alcoholic beverages. We also face significant competition from private label brands of large retail groups. A change in the number of competitors, the level of marketing or investment undertaken by our competitors, or other changes in the competitive environment in our markets may cause a reduction in the consumption of our products and in our market share and may lead to a decline in our revenues and/or an increase in our marketing or investment expenditures, which may materially and adversely affect our results of operations. Competitive pressure may also cause channel and product mix to shift away from our more profitable packages and channels, for example the immediate consumption channel.
In particular, we face intense price competition, especially in our emerging and developing countries, from producers of local non-premium CSD brands, which are typically sold at prices lower than ours. In addition, we face increasing price competition from certain large retailers that sell private label products in their outlets at prices that are lower than ours, especially in countries with a highly concentrated retail sector. In some of our countries, we are also exposed to the effect of imports from adjacent countries of lower priced products, including, in some cases, trademarked products of The Coca-Cola Company bottled by other bottlers in the Coca-Cola system. The entry into the European Union of all but one of our developing countries, as well as two of our emerging countries, will increase their exposure to such imports from other European Union countries. In addition, the enlargement of the European Union could lead to increased imports by wholesalers and large retailers of products produced and sold by us in any of these countries for resale at low prices in our other territories, particularly our established countries, where the prices of our products are generally higher than in most of our developing countries. While this practice would not affect our sales volume overall, it could put pressure on our pricing in the countries that receive such imports of lower priced products.
If there is a change in our competitors pricing policies, an increase in the volume of cheaper competing products imported into our countries or the introduction of new competing products or brands, including private label brands, and if we fail to effectively respond to such actions, we may lose customers and market share and/or the implementation of our pricing strategy may be restricted, in which case our results of operations will be adversely affected.
The increasing concentration of retailers and independent wholesalers, on which we depend to distribute our products in certain countries, could lower our profitability and harm our ability to compete.
We derive a large and increasing proportion of our revenues from sales of our products either directly to large retailers, including supermarkets and hypermarkets, or to wholesalers for resale to smaller retail outlets. We expect such sales to continue to represent a significant portion of our revenues. Most of our countries are experiencing increased concentration in the retail and wholesale sectors, either because large retailers and wholesalers are expanding their share in the relevant market, or as a result of increased consolidation among large retailers and wholesalers.
We believe that such concentration increases the bargaining power of large retailers and wholesalers. Our products compete with other non-alcoholic beverage brands for shelf space in retail stores and with other fast-moving consumer goods for preferential in-store placement. Our retailer and wholesaler customers also offer other products, sometimes including their own brands that compete directly with our products. These large retailers and wholesalers could use their increasing market power in a way that could lower our profitability and harm our ability to compete.
Contamination or deterioration of our products could hurt our reputation and depress our revenues.
The contamination or deterioration of our products, whether actual or alleged, deliberate or accidental, could harm our reputation and business. A risk of contamination or deterioration exists during each stage of the production cycle, including during the production and delivery of raw materials, the bottling and packaging of our products, the stocking and delivery of our products to retailers and wholesalers and the storage and shelving of our products at the final points of sale. Any such contamination or deterioration could result in a recall of our products and/or criminal or civil liability and restrict our ability to sell our products which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our business and prospects. These events, including incidents involving other bottlers of The Coca-Cola Companys products, could also adversely impact our competitiveness and revenues by harming the reputation of The Coca-Cola Companys brands.
Adverse weather conditions could reduce demand for our products.
Demand for our products is affected by weather conditions in the countries in which we operate. Consumption is particularly strong during the second and third quarters when demand rises due to warmer weather and, in some of our countries, increased tourist activity. As a result, unseasonably cool temperatures in our countries could adversely affect our sales volume and the results of our operations for the year.
Price increases and shortages of raw materials and packaging materials could adversely affect our results of operations.
Our results of operations may be affected by the availability and pricing of raw materials and packaging materials, including water, sugar and other sweeteners, glass, labels, plastic resin, closures, plastic crates, aluminum, aseptic packages and other packaging products and ingredients, some of which are priced in currencies other than the functional currencies of our operating companies.
Water is the main ingredient in substantially all of our products. As demand for water continues to increase around the world and as the quality of available water deteriorates, we may incur increasing production costs or face capacity constraints.
In addition, changes in global supply and demand and market fluctuations, weather conditions, government controls, exchange rates, currency controls and other factors may substantially affect the price of both raw materials and packaging materials. A substantial increase in the prices of these materials will increase our operating costs, which will depress our profit margins if we are unable to recover these additional operating costs from our customers. To some extent, derivative financial instruments and supply agreements can protect against increases in raw materials and commodities costs, but they do not provide complete protection over the longer term. In addition, the hedging instruments we use establish the purchase price for the commodities in advance of the time of delivery and, as such, it is possible that these hedging instruments may lock us into prices that are ultimately higher than the actual market price at the time of delivery.
A sustained interruption in the supply of such materials could also lead to a significant increase in the price of such materials or could impede our production process if we are unable to find suitable
substitutes. In each case, this could have a significant adverse effect on our results of operations. You should read Item 4B, Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewRaw materials and Item 5, Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsPrincipal factors affecting the results of our operationsRaw material costs for additional information on our procurement of packaging and raw materials and the cost of raw materials.
Increase in the cost of energy could affect our profitability.
We operate fleets of motor vehicles in some of our countries and use significant amounts of electricity, natural gas and other energy sources to operate our bottling plants. A substantial increase in the price of fuel and other energy sources would increase our costs and, therefore, could negatively impact our profitability.
Fluctuations in exchange rates may adversely affect the results of our operations and financial condition.
We derive a portion of our revenues from countries that have functional currencies other than our reporting currency, the euro. As a result, any fluctuations in the values of these currencies against the euro impact our income statement and balance sheet when results are translated into euro. If the euro appreciates in relation to these currencies, the euro value of the contribution of these operating companies to our consolidated results and financial position would decrease.
We incur currency transaction risks whenever one of our operating companies enters into either a purchase or sale transaction using a currency other than its functional currency. In particular, our purchases of, among other things, concentrate, which amounted to 1,049.3 million in 2006, are priced predominantly in euro and US dollars, while we sell our products in countries other than Austria, Greece, Italy, Montenegro and the Republic of Ireland in local currencies. We cannot assure that we will be able to hedge against the long-term effects of this foreign exchange exposure. We attempt to reduce our currency transaction risk, where possible, by matching currency sales revenue and operating costs. Given the volatility of currency exchange rates, we cannot assure that we will be able to manage our currency transaction risks effectively or that any volatility in currency exchange rates will not have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.
We are exposed to the impact of exchange controls, which may adversely affect our profitability or our ability to repatriate profits.
The currencies of Nigeria, the Russian Federation, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Serbia, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and Moldova can only be converted within certain limits or for specified purposes established by their governments. These countries represented 35.5% of our net sales revenue in 2006. In countries where the local currency is convertible only within prescribed limits or for specified purposes, it may be necessary for us to comply with exchange control formalities and to ensure that all relevant permits are obtained before we can repatriate profits of our subsidiaries in these countries. Such controls may have a material adverse effect on our profitability or on our ability to transfer the profits that we earn out of these countries.
Our operations are subject to extensive regulation, including resource recovery, environmental and health and safety standards. Changes in the regulatory environment may cause us to incur liabilities or additional costs or limit our business activities.
Our production, sales and distribution operations are subject to a broad range of regulations, including environmental, trade, labor, production, food safety, advertising and other regulations. Governments may also enact or increase taxes that apply to the sale of our products. More restrictive regulations or higher taxes could lead to increasing prices, which in turn may adversely affect the sale and
consumption of our products and reduce our revenues and profitability. You should read Item 4B, Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewRegulation for additional information on the regulations to which we are subject.
Some environmental laws and regulations may result in significant additional costs or diminish our ability to formulate and implement marketing strategies that we believe could be more effective, such as the use of a particular packaging material. A number of governmental authorities in the countries in which we operate have considered or are expected to consider and in some of our countries, particularly member states of the European Union, have already adopted legislation aimed at reducing the amount of discarded waste. Such programs have included, for example, requiring the attainment of certain quotas for recycling and/or the use of recycled materials, imposing deposits or taxes on plastic, glass or metal packaging material and/or requiring retailers or manufacturers to take back packaging used for their products. Such legislation, as well as voluntary initiatives similarly aimed at reducing the level of waste, could require us to incur greater costs for packaging and set higher wholesale prices to cover these incremental costs, which could be passed on to consumers and hurt our sales. In addition, such legislation could prevent us from promoting certain forms of profitable non-returnable packages or otherwise adversely impact our business and prospects. For additional information, see Item 4B, Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewEnvironmental matters.
In addition, we are subject to a broad range of environmental and health and safety laws and regulations in each of the countries in which we operate. They relate to, among other things, waste water discharges, air emissions from solvents used in coatings, inks and compounds, the use and handling of hazardous materials and waste disposal practices. If we fail to comply with applicable environmental standards, we may face liabilities. In the event of pollution, potential liabilities could be greater for gradual pollution for which insurance policies are not readily available in the insurance market or for any other events of pollution not arising from sudden, identifiable, unintended and unexpected circumstances for which we have secured insurance coverage. Environmental regulations are becoming more stringent in many of the countries in which we operate. In particular, governments and public interest groups are becoming increasingly aware and concerned about the public health and environmental consequences of carbon dioxide emissions. The introduction of regulation seeking to restrict carbon dioxide emissions might require increased investment in our cooler infrastructure and result in greater operating costs.
The enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and in 2007 has resulted in the application of European Union labor, tax, accounting and environmental regulations in eleven additional countries in which we operate. This could lead to an increase in our compliance costs and make compliance more complicated, at least in the short-term.
If local customs authorities successfully challenge the classification under which we currently import concentrate in some of our countries, we may have to pay additional customs duties.
Under our bottlers agreements with The Coca-Cola Company, we are responsible for the importation of concentrate for The Coca-Cola Companys trademarked beverages in each of our countries. Customs authorities in Hungary, Romania, Poland, the Russian Federation and Belarus have in the past five years challenged the product classification under which we have been importing this concentrate, arguing that a different classification applies. If such alternative classifications did apply, we would be required to pay additional customs duties in those countries for some past and for any future concentrate imports. The Hungarian, Belarusian, Polish and Russian customs authorities have since conceded that the current classification is accurate. However, there are still other similar cases pending before Romanian courts, some of which have ruled against our position. Customs authorities of other countries may also try to challenge the current importation classification. We continue to oppose any such attempts by local customs authorities to challenge the concentrate importation classifications by seeking court protection where necessary. However, we cannot assure that we will prevail in any relevant administrative or court
proceeding. You should read Item 8A, Financial InformationConsolidated Statements and Other Financial InformationLegal proceedings for additional information on these disputes.
You may not be able to enforce judgments against us or some of our directors or officers.
We are incorporated under the laws of Greece. Substantially all of our assets are located outside the United States. In addition, the majority of our officers and directors are residents of countries other than the United States. As a result, you may not be able to effect service of process within the United States upon these persons or enforce a US court judgment based on civil liabilities under the US federal securities laws against us or these persons. Courts outside the United States, including in Greece, may decide not to impose civil liability on us, our directors or our officers for a violation of the federal securities laws of the United States. In addition, there is uncertainty as to the enforceability in Greece of judgments of United States courts because such enforcement is subject to ascertainment by the Greek courts of a number of conditions, including that the foreign court has jurisdiction under Greek law and that the judgment is not contrary to good morals and public policy, as determined by Greek courts. In addition, it is uncertain if a Greek court would apply the federal laws of the United States in any action brought before such court. You may therefore not be able to enforce any US judgments in civil and commercial matters against us or some of our officers or directors.
Sales of substantial amounts of our ordinary shares by The Kar-Tess Group or The Coca-Cola Company Entities or the perception that such sales could occur, could adversely affect the market value of our ordinary shares or ADSs.
The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company Entities have agreed among themselves to maintain their combined shareholding at over 50% and The Coca-Cola Company Entities have agreed with The Kar-Tess Group to maintain its shareholding at no less than 22% of our outstanding share capital, during the term of their shareholders agreement. The current term of the shareholders agreement expires in December 2008, after which either group of parties may terminate it on three months written notice. However, The Kar-Tess Group and The Coca-Cola Company Entities may sell additional ordinary shares in our company, subject only to the limitations set forth in their shareholders agreement. Under their shareholders agreement, each of The Kar-Tess Group (on the one hand) or The Coca-Cola Company Entities (on the other) may consent to sales of ordinary shares by the other party at any time. Sales of substantial amounts of our ordinary shares or ADSs in the public market by The Kar-Tess Group or The Coca-Cola Company Entities, or the perception that such sales could occur, could adversely affect the market price of our ordinary shares or ADSs and could adversely affect our ability to raise capital through future capital increases.
The euro/dollar exchange rate could adversely affect the market price of our ordinary shares and the dollar value of dividends we pay in respect of our ordinary shares and ADSs.
The price of our ordinary shares is quoted in euro. Movements in the euro/dollar exchange rate may affect the US dollar price of our ADSs and the US dollar equivalent of the price of our ordinary shares. We will calculate and pay any cash dividends in euro and, as a result, exchange rate movements will affect the US dollar amount of dividends that you will receive from the Depositary if you hold ADSs.
Pre-emptive rights may not be available to you and, as a result, your investment could be diluted.
Under Greek law, prior to the issue of any class of shares, a company incorporated in Greece is required to offer existing holders of such class of shares pre-emptive rights to subscribe and pay for sufficient new shares to maintain their existing ownership percentages. US holders of our ADSs or
ordinary shares may not be able to exercise pre-emptive rights for new ordinary shares unless a registration statement under the US Securities Act of 1933 is effective with respect to such rights and new ordinary shares, or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Our decision to file a registration statement will depend on the costs and potential liabilities associated with any such registration statement, the perceived benefits to us of enabling US holders of our ADSs or ordinary shares to exercise their pre-emptive rights and any other facts, which we consider appropriate at the time. To the extent that US holders of our ADSs or ordinary shares are not able to exercise pre-emptive rights granted in connection with an issue of our ordinary shares, their proportional shareholding in our company would be diluted.
The Athens Stock Exchange may be less liquid than other major exchanges, and may exhibit volatility, which may adversely affect your ability to trade our ordinary shares.
The principal trading market for our ordinary shares is the Athens Stock Exchange, or the ATHEX. The ATHEX may be less liquid than major markets in Western Europe and the United States. As a result, shareholders may have difficulty buying and selling our ordinary shares, especially in large numbers. In 2006, the average daily trading volume on the ATHEX was approximately 342.7 million and the average daily trading volume of our ordinary shares on the ATHEX was approximately 5.3 million. By comparison, in 2005, the average daily trading volume on the ATHEX was approximately 210.0 million and the average daily trading volume of our ordinary shares on the ATHEX was approximately 4.6 million.
In addition, stock markets in general, including the ATHEX, can be highly volatile. You may not be able to trade large amounts of our ordinary shares or ADSs during or following periods of volatility. You should read Item 9A, The Offer and ListingOffer and Listing Details for additional information on the ATHEX.
Greek corporate law and our articles of association may not grant you certain of the rights and protections generally afforded to shareholders of US companies under US federal and state laws.
The rights provided to our shareholders under Greek corporate law and our articles of association differ in certain respects from the rights that you would typically enjoy as a shareholder of a US company under applicable US federal and/or state laws. For example, only shareholders holding a minimum of 5% of our share capital may ask for an inspection of our corporate records, while under Delaware corporate law any shareholder, irrespective of the size of his or her shareholdings, may do so. Furthermore, we will generally be exempt from the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934 rules regarding the content and furnishing of proxy statements to our shareholders. In particular, the notice to a general meeting of the shareholders of a Greek company typically sets forth only the items on the agenda for this meeting but it does not include managements recommendations with respect to such items. Accordingly, if you participate in a general meeting of our shareholders through a representative, you may not be able to give him or her voting instructions with advance knowledge of managements position on the items included in the agenda for that meeting.
Under Greek corporate law, shareholders are also unable to initiate a derivative action, a remedy typically available to shareholders of US companies, in order to enforce a right of our company, in case we fail to enforce such right ourselves. In addition, a majority of more than 75% of our shareholders may release a director from any liability, including if he or she has acted in bad faith or has breached his or her duty of loyalty, provided that two years have lapsed since the cause of action arose against such director. In contrast, most US federal and state laws prohibit a company from releasing a director from liability if he or she has acted in bad faith or has breached his or her duty of loyalty. Our directors, officers and principal shareholders will also be exempt from the reporting and the short-swing profit recovery provisions contained in Section 16 of the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934. However, these persons are and will continue to be required to comply with applicable Greek legislation prohibiting insider dealing. Finally,
Greek corporate law imposes a particular set of restrictions on the ability of a Greek company to repurchase its own shares, which could be more restrictive than the share repurchase regime applicable to US companies, and does not provide for any kind of appraisal rights in the case of a business combination.
For additional information on these and other aspects of Greek corporate law and our articles of association, you should read Item 9C, The Offer and ListingMarketsMarket regulation, Item 10A, Additional InformationShare Capital and Item 10B, Additional InformationMemorandum and Articles of Association. As a result of these differences between Greek corporate law and our articles of association, on the one hand, and US federal and state laws, on the other hand, in certain instances, you could receive less protection as a shareholder of our company than you would as a shareholder of a US company.
ADS holders may not be able to exercise voting rights or receive distributions as readily as holders of ordinary shares.
Holders of ADSs who would like to vote their underlying shares at our general meetings must instruct The Bank of New York as Depositary on how to vote these underlying shares. Neither we nor The Bank of New York as Depositary can guarantee that you will receive the notice for the general meeting or any voting materials provided by The Bank of New York in time to ensure that you instruct The Bank of New York to vote the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs. In addition, The Bank of New York and its agents are not responsible for failure to carry out voting instructions or for the manner of carrying out voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to vote and there may be nothing you can do if the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs are not voted as you requested. In addition, you may not receive the distributions we make on our ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impracticable for The Bank of New York to make them available to you.
We were formed through the combination of Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. and Coca-Cola Beverages plc on August 9, 2000.
Hellenic Bottling Company S.A., a corporation incorporated under the laws of Greece in 1969, was headquartered in Athens. In 1981, Kar-Tess Holding S.A. acquired a 99.9% interest in Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. Hellenic Bottling Company S.A.s shares were listed on the Athens Stock Exchange in July 1991 and it became one of the largest non-financial companies listed in Greece. The Kar-Tess Group held an interest of approximately 68.6% in Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. immediately prior to its acquisition of Coca-Cola Beverages plc in August 2000.
Hellenic Bottling Company S.A.s original territory was Greece, where The Coca-Cola Company granted it bottling rights in 1969. After 1981, Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. expanded its business through acquisitions and, immediately prior to the acquisition of Coca-Cola Beverages plc, operated bottling plants in 11 countries having an aggregate population of approximately 200 million. Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. had operations in Greece, Bulgaria, Armenia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (through an equity investment), Serbia, Montenegro, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, part of Romania, Moldova and part of the Russian Federation (through an equity investment).
In July 1998, Coca-Cola Amatil Limited, an Australian-based bottler of the products of The Coca-Cola Company, de-merged its European operations, resulting in the formation of Coca-Cola Beverages plc. These territories consisted of Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, part of Romania and Ukraine. Coca-Cola Beverages plc also acquired the Northern and Central Italian bottling operations of The Coca-Cola Company. As a result, immediately prior to its acquisition by Hellenic Bottling Company S.A., Coca-Cola Beverages plc had bottling operations in 13 countries with an aggregate population of approximately 200 million. Coca-Cola Beverages plc was incorporated under the laws of England and Wales and was listed on the London Stock Exchange, with a secondary listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. Immediately prior to Coca-Cola Beverages plcs acquisition by Hellenic Bottling Company S.A., The Coca-Cola Company held, directly and indirectly, a 50.5% interest in Coca-Cola Beverages plc, and The Olayan Group, a diversified multinational Saudi Arabian group, which holds an interest in the bottler of products of The Coca-Cola Company for Saudi Arabia, held a 10.8% interest. The remainder of Coca-Cola Beverages plcs shares was publicly held.
Following the acquisition of Coca-Cola Beverages plc, Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. was renamed Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. and became the second largest bottler of products of The Coca-Cola Company in the world at that time, based on sales volume. We retained our headquarters in Athens and our shares were listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, with secondary listings on the London and Australian Stock Exchanges.
On November 23, 2001, we purchased from The Coca-Cola Company all of its wholly owned and majority owned bottling operations in the Russian Federation through the purchase of the Cyprus holding company, Star Bottling Limited, and LLC Coca-Cola Stavropolye Bottlers. The Russian operating subsidiary of Star Bottling Limited is LLC Coca-Cola HBC Eurasia following the merger of LLC Coca-Cola Vladivostok Bottlers in 2005. In addition, on the same date we also purchased The Coca-Cola Companys 40% interest in Coca-Cola Molino Beverages Limited, a company in which we already held the remaining 60%. As a result of this acquisition, we gained the exclusive rights to sell and distribute products of The Coca-Cola Company in all of the Russian Federation. On January 2, 2002, we completed the acquisition from The Coca-Cola Company of its bottling operations in the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
On April 5, 2006, we successfully completed the tender offer for the outstanding share capital of Lanitis Bros Public Limited (subsequently renamed Lanitis Bros Limited), a beverage company in Cyprus, with a strong portfolio of products, including those of The Coca-Cola Company, as well as its own juice and dairy products. Following completion of the tender offer, we acquired 95.43% of the share capital of Lanitis Bros Limited. The total consideration paid for these shares was 71.5 million (excluding acquisition costs) with the assumption of debt of an additional 5.6 million. Following completion of the tender offer, we initiated a mandatory buy-out process in accordance with Cypriot law for the purposes of acquiring the remaining shares in Lanitis Bros Limited. Lanitis Bros Limited has been delisted from the Cyprus Stock Exchange. As at December 31, 2006, we had acquired an additional 11,218,735 shares representing 4.48% of the share capital of Lanitis Bros Limited for a total consideration of 3.4 million, bringing our equity ownership to 99.91%.
We listed our ADSs on the New York Stock Exchange on October 10, 2002. We believe that this listing has increased our visibility to the international investment community and enhanced our comparability with our international peer group.
Since 2002, we have expanded our presence in the non-CSD category. We acquired Römerquelle GmbH, an Austrian mineral water company (December 2003) and Gotalka d.o.o., a Croatian mineral water company (January 2004), Bankya Mineral Waters Bottling Company EOOD, a Bulgarian mineral water company (June 2005), and we developed the NaturAqua mineral water brand in Hungary and the
Olimpja water brand in Bosnia. We acquired jointly with The Coca-Cola Company, Valser Mineralquellen AG, a Swiss mineral water bottler (September 2002), Dorna Apemin S.A., Romanias premier sparkling mineral water company (December 2002), Multivita sp. z o.o., a Polish mineral water company (October 2003), Vlasinka d.o.o., a Serbian mineral water company (April 2005), the Multon Z.A.O. group, a leading Russian fruit juice producer (April 2005), and Fresh & Co, a leading juice company in Serbia (March 2006). Lanitis Bros Limited, which was acquired by us in April 2006, also has a significant juice and dairy business in addition to its CSD business. Most recently, we acquired jointly with The Coca-Cola Company Fonti del Vulture S.r.l., a producer of high quality mineral water in Italy with significant water reserves (July 2006). We also acquired a hot beverages vending operator in Hungary, Yoppi Kft. (August 2006) and Eurmatik S.r.l. (May 2007), a vending operator in Italy.
Our address is: 9 Fragoklissias Street, 151 25 Maroussi, Athens, Greece. Our telephone number is (011) 30 210 618 3100. We have appointed CT Corporation System, located at 111 Eighth Avenue, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10011, USA, as our agent for service of process in any suit, action or proceeding with respect to our ordinary shares or ADSs and for actions under US federal or state securities laws brought in any US federal or state court located in The City of New York, Borough of Manhattan, and we have submitted to the jurisdiction of such courts. Our authorized representative in the United States is Puglisi & Associates.
Our business consists of producing, selling and distributing non-alcoholic beverages consisting primarily of products of The Coca-Cola Company. We are one of the largest bottlers of non-alcoholic beverages in Europe, operating in 28 countries with a total population of approximately 540 million people (including our equity investment in Brewinvest S.A.). In 2006, we sold approximately 1.7 billion unit cases, generating net sales revenue of 5.4 billion.
Our products include carbonated soft drinks, or CSDs, and non-CSDs, including juices, waters, sports and energy drinks and other ready-to-drink beverages such as teas and coffees. In 2006, CSDs accounted for 71% and non-CSDs accounted for 29% of our sales volume, as compared, respectively, to 74% and 26% in 2005 and 78% and 22% in 2004. We offer our products in a range of flavors and package combinations which vary from country to country.
Under our bottlers agreements with The Coca-Cola Company, we have the right to produce and the exclusive right, subject to certain limitations, to sell and distribute products of The Coca-Cola Company in each of our territories. Sales of products of The Coca-Cola Company represented approximately 93% of our total sales volume in 2006, with sales of products under The Coca-Cola brand, the worlds most recognized brand, representing approximately 38% of our total sales volume. In
addition to Coca-Cola, our other core brands include Fanta, Sprite and Coca-Cola light (which we sell in some of our countries under the diet Coke trademark). Our core brands together accounted for approximately 63% of our total sales volume in 2006. We also produce, sell and distribute a broad family of brands of other CSD and non-CSD products which varies from country to country. Together with The Coca-Cola Company, we are committed to exploring new growth opportunities by introducing new products and packages that satisfy the changing demands and preferences of consumers in our markets.
We group our countries into three segments. The countries included in each segment share similar levels of political and economic stability and development, regulatory environments, growth opportunities, customers and distribution infrastructures. Our three segments are as follows:
· Established Countries, which are Italy, Greece, Austria, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Switzerland and Cyprus.
· Developing Countries, which are Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
· Emerging Countries, which are the Russian Federation, Romania, Nigeria, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia, Moldova and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (through an equity investment).
We produce, sell and distribute Coca-Cola, the worlds leading brand of non-alcoholic beverages in terms of sales volume and the worlds most recognized brand. The other brands licensed to us by The Coca-Cola Company are also among the leading brands in their market categories. In particular, Coca-Cola light (diet Coke), Sprite and Fanta, together with Coca-Cola, are four of the worlds five best selling non-alcoholic beverages in terms of sales volume.
We are the second largest bottler of products of The Coca-Cola Company in the world in terms of net sales revenue and market capitalization, operating in 28 countries with a total population of approximately 540 million. Our scale offers significant opportunities arising from the sharing of knowledge and best practices across our countries, procurement savings and coordination and optimization of investment planning, including capital expenditure.
We are one of The Coca-Cola Companys key bottlers, reflecting our strategic importance within the Coca-Cola system. We work closely with The Coca-Cola Company, utilizing our respective skills and assets to maximize the opportunities to increase sales in our countries and, ultimately, increase value to our shareholders over the long-term. However, The Coca-Cola Company could exercise significant influence over our profit margins by virtue of its rights under our bottlers agreements to determine the price of concentrate we buy from The Coca-Cola Company and, to the extent permitted by local law, the maximum price we may charge to our customers outside the European Economic Area.
Our established countries provide us with a stable source of revenues and cash flow, while our developing and emerging countries provide us with significant growth opportunities. This balance allows us to minimize external financing of our long-term growth, reduce earnings volatility and limit our exposure to the effects of potential economic or political instability in our developing and emerging countries.
We believe that many of our developing and emerging countries are underdeveloped in terms of CSD and non-CSD consumption. In 2006, for example, the Russian Federation and Nigeria, which together account for more than half of the total population of our countries, had a weighted average annual CSD consumption of approximately 95.4 servings per capita, compared to over 300 in Western Europe. Additionally, as the beverage of choice in our emerging and developing countries continues to evolve from tap water and homemade drinks toward branded CSDs and non-CSDs, we believe that we are well positioned to capture a substantial share of this market growth. Not only is there an opportunity for sales revenue growth in these countries through increased market penetration, but countries such as Nigeria generally have a more favorable demographic profile for CSD consumption since there are larger numbers of young people who consume more CSDs. However, many of our developing and emerging countries are subject to economic and political volatility that may limit our ability to achieve growth in such countries.
Since 2001, we have invested in excess of 2.4 billion in property, plant and equipment, to modernize our plant infrastructure and to expand the availability of cold drink equipment such as coolers. As a result, we believe that we have the production capacity and distribution infrastructure to meet volume growth at a relatively low incremental capital cost and to expand the availability of our products, especially the more profitable single-serve packages.
We believe that we have one of the largest and best-trained sales forces in the non-alcoholic beverages industry in each of our countries. This allows us to work closely and develop strong relationships with our customers.
Our senior management team has extensive experience in the non-alcoholic beverages industry. This provides us with strong knowledge of the industry, familiarity with our customers and understanding of the development, manufacture and sale of our products.
Our strategic objective is to maximize shareholder value over time. Our management also uses four key measures to evaluate our performance: profitable volume growth, growth in operating profit, growth in COP, and return on invested capital, or ROIC.
In order to achieve this objective we have set the following six main priorities:
· to increase our beverage categories in order to become a more diverse alcohol-free beverage company;
· to build brand equity in order to create value for customers;
· to drive profitable package mix and exploit new channels in order to enhance margins;
· to manage capital for growth and value;
· to drive cost efficiency throughout the business; and
· to create superior sustainable returns.
Our strategy starts with our people. We believe that our success to date is due in large part to our experienced management team and to the dedication and professionalism of our approximately 43,000 employees. We will continue to build employee excellence by recruiting the best people and providing intensive and ongoing training and career development. At the same time, we will continue to use our compensation system to closely align our employees incentives with the achievement of our financial objectives and the creation of shareholder value.
Operating across 28 countries has taught us that our local employees are in the best position to evaluate the particular circumstances of each market category and address its specific needs. Accordingly, throughout our operations, responsibility and accountability for improving performance and delivering results is placed in the hands of those closest to the market, including our country and local managers. We believe that this fosters a high degree of innovation and responsiveness to our customers.
The second key element of our strategy is to further develop each of our markets by delivering superior customer service and quality products. Our blueprint for executing this strategy can be summarized in a simple formula: availability, affordability, acceptability and activation.
Availability means placing our range of products within easy reach of consumers in the right package, in the right location, at the right time. We focus on developing strong relationships with our customers in order to ensure that the right products are in stock, highly visible and readily accessible wherever and whenever consumers may desire a non-alcoholic beverage.
Affordability means offering a wide variety of desirable, premium quality products, in packages appropriate for the occasion, at the right price. In doing so, we aim to reach as many consumers as possible while taking into account the differing levels of purchasing power in the countries in which we operate.
Acceptability means supplying an extensive and growing range of products that meet the highest quality standards in each country, enhancing their acceptability to consumers. Our experience in quality control, customer service and efficient distribution, combined with a detailed understanding of consumer needs and access to the most effective communications channels, allows us to reach out to customers and consumers in each of our markets and meet their demands.
Activation means motivating consumers to choose our products by improving product availability and attractiveness at the point of purchase and by building brand strength in our local markets. We achieve this in close cooperation with our customers through the placement of cold drink equipment, such as coolers and vending machines, the provision of signage and other point-of-sale materials and the implementation of local marketing and promotional initiatives.
Consumer preferences and demands are constantly evolving throughout our markets. In order to satisfy these demands, we continuously build on our strong family of brands by introducing new flavors and packages for our existing brands, launching existing brands in new markets and re-launching or reinvigorating existing brands where appropriate. In addition, in order to take full advantage of opportunities in market categories with high growth potential, particularly non-CSD categories such as waters, juices, energy and sports beverages and other ready-to-drink beverages such as teas and coffees, we plan to launch new products developed by The Coca-Cola Company and to acquire or develop new local products to offer consumers more choice.
In recent years, for instance, we acquired Römerquelle GmbH, an Austrian mineral water company (December 2003) and Gotalka d.o.o., a Croatian mineral water company (January 2004), Bankya Mineral Waters Bottling Company EOOD, a Bulgarian mineral water company (June 2005), and we developed the NaturAqua mineral water brand in Hungary and the Olimpija water brand in Bosnia. We acquired jointly with The Coca-Cola Company Valser Mineralquellen AG, a Swiss mineral water bottler (September 2002), Dorna Apemin S.A., Romanias premier sparkling mineral water company (December 2002), Multivita sp. z o.o., a Polish mineral water company (October 2003), Vlasinka d.o.o., a Serbian mineral water company (April 2005), the Multon Z.A.O. group, a leading Russian fruit juice producer (April 2005), Fresh & Co, a leading juice company in Serbia (March 2006) and Fonti del Vulture S.r.l., a producer of high quality mineral water (July 2006). Lanitis Bros Limited, which we acquired in April 2006, also has a significant juice and dairy business in addition to its CSD business.
We have benefited in several ways from the increase in the size of our company over the past seven years:
· By centralizing our procurement function, we have been able to reduce our costs of raw materials and packaging.
· By implementing best practices across the company, we have been able to improve our sales and distribution systems.
We intend to continue taking advantage of these benefits of scale to improve the efficiency of our operations. We also intend to continue to modernize our production and distribution infrastructure and invest in advanced IT systems to enhance productivity.
At the same time, we intend to continue to manage our capital expenditure carefully by focusing our investment on more profitable areas of our business, such as cold drink equipment for use in the immediate consumption channel. Our immediate consumption channels include restaurants and cafés, bars, kiosks, grocery stores, gas stations, sports and leisure venues and hotels. Products sold in our immediate consumption channels typically generate lower volumes and higher margins per retail outlet than our future consumption channels. Through the careful management of our capital expenditure, the efficient deployment of our assets, including cold drink equipment and distribution infrastructure, across our countries and the use of appropriate financing arrangements, we aim to optimize the utilization of our capital. As a result, we believe that we have the production capacity and distribution infrastructure to meet volume growth at a relatively low incremental capital cost.
We believe that considerable opportunities exist for sustained, profitable growth in our existing territories. While we remain open to the possibility of acquiring new territories over time on an opportunistic basis, this does not currently form part of our core business strategy.
We produce, sell and distribute both CSD and non-CSD products under the brands of The Coca-Cola Company in all of our countries. We also produce, sell and distribute CSD products under the brands that The Coca-Cola Company acquired for certain countries from Cadbury Schweppes plc in 1999. Schweppes Holdings Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company, has granted to us the rights to produce, sell and distribute these beverages in Greece, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Nigeria, the Russian Federation, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Ukraine, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. In some of our countries, we produce, sell and distribute non-CSD products licensed by Beverage Partners Worldwide, a joint venture between The Coca-Cola Company and Nestlé S.A. The Coca-Cola Company owns the trademarks for all products of The Coca-Cola Company that we produce, sell and distribute in each country in which we operate. As a result, we rely on The Coca-Cola Company to protect its brands in our markets.
In some of our countries, we also produce, sell, distribute and market our own brands. These include our range of Amita juices and our mineral water, Avra, in Greece, our Römerquelle mineral water in Austria, our Deep River Rock packaged water and Fruice juices in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and our Lanitis juices and dairy products in Cyprus. We also distribute certain CSD and non-CSD products which we purchase from other companies unaffiliated with The Coca-Cola Company in some of our countries.
In 2006, CSD beverages of The Coca-Cola Company accounted for 71% of our sales volume, non-CSD beverages of The Coca-Cola Company, principally Bonaqua, Dorna and Valser waters, Cappy juices, PowerAde and Nestea, licensed to us by Beverage Partners Worldwide, accounted for approximately 23%, and other beverages, principally our Amita juices and Avra, Deep River Rock and Römerquelle waters, accounted for approximately 6%. The following table sets forth our top five brands in 2006 in terms of sales volume as a percentage of our total sales volume:
We offer our beverages in both refillable and non-refillable packages and in a range of flavors designed to meet the demands of our consumers. The main packaging materials for our beverages are PET (a plastic resin), glass and cans. In addition, we provide fast food restaurants and other immediate consumption outlets with fountain products. Fountains consist of dispensing equipment that mixes the fountain syrup with carbonated or still water, enabling fountain retailers to sell finished CSDs or non-CSDs to consumers in cups or glasses. The following table sets forth some of our most important products, including both products that The Coca-Cola Company and other parties have licensed to us and the products that we own.
(1) We produce, sell and distribute Black Ice Coffee, Nestea and Nescafé Xpress under a license from Beverage Partners Worldwide. On March 27, 2007, The Coca-Cola Company and Nestlé announced their agreement that all coffee initiatives revert from Beverage Partners Worldwide to The Coca-Cola Company and Nestlé on a market-by-market basis during an orderly transition period ending no later than December 31, 2008. We anticipate no immediate impact on our operations as a result of this agreement.
(2) We produce, sell and distribute Dr. Pepper and Schweppes under a license from Schweppes Holdings Limited.
(3) We produce, sell and distribute Tuborg Soda and Tonic Water under a license from Carlsberg Breweries A/S.
(4) We produce, sell and distribute Valvert under a license from Nestlé S.A.
(5) These brands are owned by Fresh & Co, a juice company in Serbia which we purchased jointly with The Coca-Cola Company in March 2006.
(6) We distribute Heineken in the south-west region of the Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Amstel in Cyprus.
Our territories encompass whole countries except, Northern Ireland, the only region of the United Kingdom in which we operate.
The following table illustrates key measures of consumption and certain key economic indicators for the countries within each segment for 2006.
Sources: Information on total CSD servings per capita and our CSD category share has been obtained from CANADEAN, except for Nigeria and Armenia, for which such information cannot be obtained from CANADEAN. In addition, the following adjustments have been made to category share numbers:
· Our CSD category share in Greece consists of our 75.3% share relating to products of The Coca-Cola Company and our 4.2% share relating to Tuborg Soda and Tonic Water and Zelita, as derived from CANADEAN.
· The CANADEAN CSD data for Switzerland does not currently include our product, Ali. Incorporating the effect of Ali, based on our internal estimates, in both category share and total CSD balances, increases our category share from 48.9% to 49.4%.
· Our CANADEAN CSD category share in Austria includes both the category share relating to products of The Coca-Cola Company and to the Almdudler brand.
Information on country or territory population and GDP per capita has been obtained from The World Factbook of Central Intelligence Agency, except for the population of our Italian territory. The bottlers agreement that we have been granted by The Coca-Cola Company in respect of Italy covers the northern and central regions of the country. As a result, the territory in which we distribute CSDs in Italy is limited to these regions. As the population of this territory cannot be obtained from The World Factbook of Central Intelligence Agency or other independent sources we have calculated a figure based on our internal estimates.
(1) Per capita consumption is defined as the average number of eight US fluid ounce servings consumed per person per year in a specific market. We have calculated per capita consumption of our CSD products in each country by multiplying our CSD category share obtained from CANADEAN by the total number of CSD servings per capita in such countries obtained from CANADEAN, with the exception of Nigeria and Armenia, for which no information on total CSD servings per capita and CSD category share can be obtained from independent sources. As a result, we have calculated per capita consumption of our CSD products in these two countries by multiplying our unit case volume by 24 (the average number of servings in a unit case) and dividing by the population.
(2) Information on CSD category share in relation to Italy can only be obtained from independent sources with respect to the entire country. As the area in which we distribute CSDs in Italy is limited to the northern and central regions, our estimate of total CSD servings per capita in our Italian territory is based on our CSD servings per capita and externally available CSD category share information.
(3) One unit case corresponds to 24 servings of eight US fluid ounces.
(4) The total volume for Italy represents the volume in respect of both distribution of products of The Coca-Cola Company in our franchise territory of northern and central Italy and the distribution of the water products of Fonti del Vulture S.r.l across the whole of Italy.
(5) The population figure provided for Italy represents our internal estimate of the population of northern and central regions of the country, being the territory over which we distribute CSDs.
(6) The GDP per capita of Italy represents the GDP per capita of Italy as a whole and not only that of the northern and central parts of the country, which constitute our franchise territory for products of The Coca-Cola Company. The GDP per capita reported for Ireland reflects a population-weighted average of the GDP per capita for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (as based on the GDP for the United Kingdom).
(7) Population-weighted average for all territories in the category.
(8) The results of Brewinvest S.A., a joint venture of which we own 50% that is engaged in the bottling and distribution of beer and non-alcoholic beverages in Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia, are not consolidated into our results of operations under US GAAP. Instead, they are reflected in our share of income of equity method investees.
(9) The results of Multon Z.A.O. group, a joint venture of which we own 50% that is engaged in the production and distribution of juice products in the Russian Federation, are not consolidated into our results of operations under US GAAP. Instead, they are reflected in our share of income of equity method investees.
(10) The results of Fresh & Co, a joint venture of which we own 50% that is engaged in the production and distribution of juice products in Serbia, are not consolidated into our results of operations under US GAAP. Instead, they are reflected in our share of income of equity method investees.
We believe that the preceding table illustrates the potential to increase consumption of our beverages, particularly in our emerging and developing countries, which still exhibit relatively low levels of CSD consumption per capita, as compared to our established countries. For example, the population-weighted average servings of CSDs per capita was 110.7 in our emerging countries and 242.3 in our developing countries in 2006. In contrast, the population-weighted average servings of CSDs per capita was 263.6 in our established countries in 2006.
Our established countries are Italy, Greece, Austria, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Switzerland and Cyprus. These countries generally enjoy a high degree of political and economic stability and have substantially similar macroeconomic characteristics. In particular, they typically exhibit high levels of disposable income per capita, which enhances the affordability of our products, especially our more profitable single-serve packages designed for immediate consumption.
Established countries are characterized by high consumer sophistication, high consumption volumes per capita, moderate rates of consumption growth for CSDs and a trend toward faster growth in consumption of non-CSDs, particularly waters and juices. We believe that the growth in consumption of non-CSDs, which some consumers perceive as being associated with physical well-being, health and fitness, is strongly influenced by current demographic trends, including an ageing and increasingly affluent population.
The most important trend generally affecting the future consumption channel in our established countries is increasing concentration of the retail sector. At the same time, we see many opportunities for further growth in the more profitable immediate consumption channel in these countries where we continue to see opportunities to extend our penetration of small retail outlets, specialized consumption venues and at work. Activation at the final point of sale is also a key focus of our sales and marketing efforts in these countries.
We sell our products in our established countries through a combination of wholesalers and our direct delivery system. During 2006 and the first part of 2007, we sought to expand our direct distribution capabilities.
In 2006 and 2005, we took certain initiatives to consolidate our manufacturing network by rationalizing sites, through consolidation, relocating manufacturing lines, and streamlining our warehouses. The established countries affected by these initiatives were mainly the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Austria and Greece.
Net sales revenue in our established countries amounted to 2,244.9 in 2004, 2,261.8 million in 2005, and 2,473.5 million in 2006 which accounted for 53.4%, 48.8% and 46.0% of our total net sales revenue in 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively.
Our business in Italy encompasses the manufacture and distribution of the products of The Coca-Cola Company in our franchise territory of northern and central Italy and the distribution of the water products of Fonti del Vulture S.r.l across the whole of Italy. Fonti del Vulture S.r.l was acquired in July 2006, jointly with The Coca Cola Company.
Our franchise territory for northern and central Italy encompasses approximately two-thirds of the Italian population. In the territory, we are one of the largest bottlers of non-alcoholic beverages and the leader in the CSD category in terms of sales volume, with a category share of 49.2% in 2006. CSD per capita consumption in our Italian territory is lower than in any of our other established countries and consumption growth of non-CSDs, particularly mineral waters, teas and juices, continues to increase more rapidly than that of CSDs. We believe that the low per capita consumption of CSDs in Italy relative to our other established countries represents a significant growth opportunity.
Total volume for 2006 increased by 18.7% against 2005. Of this, 15.2% related to the acquisition of Fonti del Vulture S.r.l. and the remaining 3.5% to our core business. In 2006, we continued to focus on light products with the introduction of Sprite Zero and continued investment in Coca Cola Light, Fanta Free and Nestea Light. We also continued to diversify our range of products into new categories with the launch of Aquarius. In 2006, we undertook a number of promotional activities linked to major events, starting with our winter promotion in connection with the Turin Olympics, followed by our football promotion linked to the FIFA World Cup and our summer promotion co-developed with MTV.
In 2006, we continued to drive incremental profitable volume growth. One of the key factors in our performance was a 17.0% growth in sales of 0.5 liter PET bottles and an overall increase of 4.5% in single-serve packages (excluding Fonti del Vulture S.r.l.). We achieved strong growth in the 0.5 liter package across all channels. This was primarily due to the implementation of our direct distribution system, which contributed significantly to the strong growth of the 0.5 liter package in the immediate consumption channel, and secondarily due to improved brand visibility, as a result of increased in-store marketing efforts and activation, as well as additional cooler placements both in the immediate and in the future consumption channels.
In 2006, we also realized the full economic and operational benefit of the aseptic line that was added to our Nogara plant in 2005. The new aseptic line allows us to produce directly our increasing volumes of Nestea and PowerAde, which were previously produced through third-party toll-fillers.
Although there has been an increasing level of concentration and consolidation in both the wholesale and retail channels since the mid-1990s, the beverage distribution sector in Italy remains relatively fragmented at both the wholesale and the retail level compared to other Western European countries. In 2006, we completed the roll-out of our direct distribution system in the immediate consumption channel. While this initiative is part of a multi-year plan, the results have already been very positive particularly in terms of improved distribution of our profitable single serve packages, such as 0.5 liter packages, and of our non-carbonated beverages.
We are the largest bottler of non-alcoholic beverages and the leader in the CSD category in Greece in terms of sales volume, with a 79.5% category share in 2006. We have operated in Greece since 1969. We believe Greece is one of the countries where we have been particularly successful in diversifying our family of brands. In Greece, in addition to our strong presence in the CSD category with the core brands of The Coca-Cola Company, we have been very successful in the non-CSD category, where we are the leading producer of water with our Avra mineral water and Lyttos brands and of fruit juices with our Amita and Frulite brands. We believe that our significant and successful experience in the non-CSD category in
Greece will be beneficial in our effort to achieve a leading position in the non-CSD category in other countries.
Immediate consumption channels are particularly important for our business in Greece. Relying on systematic work and significant investments, we have developed a consumption channel that consists of approximately 130,000 small outlets in the Greek market, including kiosks, grocery stores, cafés, bars and gas stations. We plan to further improve the availability of our cold drink products for impulse consumption by investing in cold drink equipment and expanding our sales force in this channel.
We sell the majority of our products to a large number of wholesalers and distributors, which distribute our products to small outlets. We also deliver our products directly to some of our customers, such as supermarket chains and other key accounts.
We incur higher transportation costs in the Greek Islands than in mainland Greece because we need to ship many of our products by sea. In addition, our core consumers in the Greek Islands are tourists. As a result, demand for our products in the Greek Islands is concentrated in the tourist season from mid-April to September and varies from island to island based upon the nationality, age range and preferences of the tourists who typically visit each island. In order to address the special circumstances under which we operate, we have separated our distribution operations in the Greek Islands from those in mainland Greece.
We have also developed different forms of marketing activities for different target consumers, with sponsorships, club advertisements, prize contests and instant win programs. In the Greek Islands, we have implemented programs that focus on impulse consumption as well as the consumption habits of tourists.
On February 24, 2006, we ceased operations in the Athens plant, and production was transferred to our Schimatari plant (which is 40 kilometres north from Athens). In addition, on March 10, 2006, the warehouses in Messologi, Corfu and Rhodes were closed. In December, we undertook additional restructuring following an organizational streamlining across the administrative support and logistic functions. These initiatives are expected to support the growth of the Greek business as well as yield significant operating efficiency benefits in future years.
We believe that we are the largest bottler of non-alcoholic beverages in Austria in terms of sales volume, with a 41.6% share of the CSD category in 2006.
In addition to the core brands of The Coca-Cola Company, our CSD brands include Mezzo Mix and Almdudler, a popular national CSD product. We also own Römerquelle, the second largest water brand in Austria, in terms of sales volume. The flavored variant of Römerquelle, Emotion, is the leading brand in the growing flavored water segment.
For distribution in our immediate consumption channel, we rely on a combination of our direct delivery system and a group of seven major wholesalers. We seek to maintain strong relationships with these wholesalers by establishing stronger interaction with them, entering into joint marketing development activities and providing more innovative consumer communication initiatives. In 2006, we increased our sales force by 30% by hiring additional market developers whose task is to provide even better service to accounts covered by wholesalers. We also realigned merchandising standards, increased outdoor cooler placements and impro