Coke problems should fizzle out after talks

June 29th, 2009 | by addis portal |

By Elias Meseret

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Ahmet C. Bozer, President of the Eurasia and Africa Group of the Coca-Cola Company, discussed various issues with Ethiopian government officials ranging from the shortage of foreign exchange that caused it to halt its operation in March to other tax-related matters.
The president, who has met the ministers of Trade and Industry (MoTI) and finance and economic development (MoFED), said the company is doing all the necessary preparations to tackle the causes of Coca-Cola’s problems.

“Though Ethiopia is one of the least coke consuming nations in the world, with less than eight bottles for a person per annum, it is located in the top five coke consuming regions in the world,” he noted. “But, we need to see the market to determine whether we should open up further outlets. That’s not a problem for us.”

The country ran out of Coca-Cola in March this year after its local bottler said it no longer had enough foreign currency to buy bottle tops. The East African Bottling Share Company, which has exclusive rights to bottle the drink in Ethiopia, has also previously said it was forced to temporarily close its two plants in the country and send its 1,000 workers on compulsory leave.

The president now says he has discussed with Government officials on how to deal with the forex shortages, though he gave no detail on what the final agreement was. He also stressed that he has told the ministers there is no need to impose further excise taxes, as coke is a beverage consumed by each and every individuals.

Bozer, a Turkish national, is leading the company’s business activities in over 90 countries. Headquartered in Istanbul, the group consists of eight business units, including Turkey, Middle East,Russia-Ukraine-Belarus,South-Eastern Eurasia, India and South West Asia, North and West Africa, East and Central Africa, and South Africa.

Bozer joined the company in 1990 as a Financial Control Manager for Coca-Cola USA and held a number of other roles in the finance department of the organisation. In 2000, Bozer was named President of the Eurasia Division of the Company.

At the end of 2002, that division was reorganised to include the Middle East Division and was renamed the Eurasia and Middle East Division. During the period between 2000 until 2006, the Eurasia and Middle East Division was expanded to include 34 countries and, in 2006, Mr. Bozer assumed the additional leadership responsibilities for the Russia, Ukraine and Belarus Division.

Mr. Bozer was appointed president of the company’s former Eurasia Group effective from January 1, 2007, and became President of the Eurasia and Africa Group when it was formed on July 1, 2008, by combining the former Eurasia Group, other than the Adriatic and Balkans business unit, with the former Africa Group.

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