Greece said its unemployment rate has topped 25 percent and its biggest company announced on Thursday that it would quit the country, in a fresh blow to an economy German experts have warned cannot be “saved” without writing off more debt.
The announcement by drinks bottler Coca Cola Hellenic (CCH) that it is switching its primary listing from Athens to London and moving its corporate base to stable, low-tax Switzerland is a bitter blow to the debt-crippled nation.
The firm, which bottles Coke and other drinks in 28 countries from Russia to Nigeria, is Greece’s biggest by market value and is 23 percent owned by Coca-Cola Co of the US. Its Greek operations, which account for 5 percent of its bottling business, will be unaffected, but the move was bad news for a nation struggling to compete inside the eurozone.
CCH chief executive Dimitris Lois said the decision to switch the company’s primary listing to London and its corporate base to Switzerland made “clear business sense.”
It follows Greek dairy group FAGE’s relocation to Luxembourg this month.
“This is a healthy company that does not want to suffer from Greece’s high country risk,” said an analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
CCH’s announcement coincided with data that showed Greek unemployment climbing for a 35th consecutive month in July to 25.1 percent from a revised 24.8 percent in June. The unemployment rate has more than tripled since the country’s five-year-old recession began.
Fifty-four percent of Greeks aged 15 to 24 are out of work, fueling violent protests against the tax hikes, spending cuts and public-sector job losses demanded by the EU and the IMF in exchange for more than 200 billion euros (US$258 billion) in loans since 2010.
Greece is still far off target.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, speaking in Tokyo, backed calls to give the country two more years to meet its budget deficit reduction targets.
Greek officials said such an extension would require an extra 11.5 billion to 12 billion euros in funding, and that even more money might be required because of slippage in the privatization process and the deeper-than-expected recession.
Without further aid, Athens says it will run out of money by the end of next month.
The sides are trying to strike a deal by next Thursday, when EU leaders are due to meet in Brussels.
“We are close to a deal,” said a finance ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, after a meeting between troika officials and Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras.
The troika comprises the IMF, the EU’s executive commission and the European Central Bank.
“We hope to have a deal by the EU summit,” the official added, though it would still then have to be passed to parliament.
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
NOT A PANACEA: Offering 5G services would not solve the problem of declining telecom incomes, chairman Sheih Chi-mau said, expecting a flat 5G telecom revenue Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday became the nation’s first telecom to debut its 5G services, offering tiered tariffs that include a threshold of NT$599 and flat rates, as it aims to switch half of its subscribers to the 5G network within three years. Subscribers would have unlimited data transmission for monthly fees starting at NT$1,399 — the same flat rate as when the company launched its 4G service in 2014 — and they can subscribe to the highest-rate plan for NT$2,699 per month for faster data transmission speeds and larger bandwidth, the company said. Data transmission speeds would be within the range
STAYING AHEAD: TSMC expects its sales this year to grow 14 to 19 percent and could spend up to US$3.52 billion on research and development, leaving its rivals far behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) reported that the US last year approved 99 percent of its patent applications, which placed the tech giant among the top patent holders in the US. In its Corporate Social Responsibility Report, TSMC said it last year secured about 3,600 patents worldwide, including more than 2,300 in the US. As of the end of last year, TSMC owned more than 39,000 patents, the report said. The company last year filed almost 6,500 patent applications worldwide and ranked among the top 10 patent applicants in the US. In Taiwan, it was the largest patent applicant for the fourth