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Coke Chairman Downplays Europe Raids

July 23, 1999|Reuters

Coca-Cola Co.'s top executive called raids by European regulators on Coke offices in four countries "pretty routine," saying he was more concerned about getting the company past its recent product contamination scare. "It's not something I'm very exercised about," Chairman Douglas Ivester said of the raids in Germany, Denmark, Austria and Britain. Regulators on Tuesday and Wednesday seized internal documents at Coca-Cola bottlers on suspicion Coke was using its market dominance to keep competitors at bay. If confirmed, the probe could mean hefty fines for the Atlanta-based company. But Ivester downplayed the regulators' moves and said Coke was not the only target. Coke's lawyers have met European Union officials, and the company was cooperating with the inquiry, Ivester said. His comments came in a meeting with about 100 Wall Street analysts to review Coca-Cola's problems in the last year. Coke's stock had little reaction, closing up 50 cents at $63.13 on the NYSE.

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