By T. Igoumenidi
An abrupt announcement on Thursday evening by Titan S.A., one of the biggest cement producers in SE Europe and an industrial mainstay in Greece for decades, that it is transferring its corporate headquarters outside the country, constitutes an ominous development for business confidence in the thrice bailed-out country.
Titan follows other major industrial units, such as Viohalco and Coca Cola Hellenic, which transferred their corporate operations outside Greece, ostensibly for greater tax relief and cheaper borrowing.
The move, however, was not as unexpected as Thursday's announcement, as Titan's leadership over the past few years had warned that it was seeking various ways to achieve easier and cheaper borrowing in order to boost its competitiveness and market share.
In a lengthy press release, Titan said it was founding Titan Cement International S.A. in Brussels and aiming to float its shares on Brussels' Euronext stock exchange, along with the parallel secondary trading on the Athens Stock Exchange and Paris' Euronext.
On Thursday Titan announced a voluntary tender offer, submitted by newly created Titan Cement International S.A., for the exchange of all the ordinary shares and preference shares issued by the former with new shares of the latter. The purpose of the offer, according to press release, is to facilitate the listing of Titan Group on Euronext Brussels.