Greece's biggest firm leaves, jobless rate soars

October 11, 2012 16:39
1 minute read.

ATHENS - Greece's jobless rate topped 25 percent and its biggest company said it would quit the country on Thursday in a fresh blow to an economy that German experts warned cannot be "saved" without writing off more debt.

The announcement by drinks bottler Coca Cola Hellenic (CCH) that it was 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 The Coca-Cola Co of the United States. It said its Greek plants would be unaffected.

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 jobless rate has more than tripled since the country's now five-year-old recession began.

Fifty-four percent of Greeks aged 15-24 years are out of work, fueling violent protests against the tax hikes, spending cuts and public sector job losses demanded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in exchange for more than 200 billion euros ($258.03 billion) in loans since 2010.

Greece is still far off target.

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