LONDON (AP) _ Richard Branson's Virgin Cola Co. took aim Thursday at rival Coke, saying if Coca-Cola Enterprises takes full control of Britain's biggest soft-drink bottler it will wield too much clout.

Virgin Cola asked the European Commission to investigate what it calls abuse of market position by Coca-Cola Schweppes Beverages Ltd., the big soft-drink bottling group owned 51 percent by Cadbury Schweppes PLC and 49 percent by Coca-Cola Co.

Cadbury said in June it would sell its stake in the venture to Coca-Cola Enterprises for $1.03 billion. Coca-Cola Co. is also selling its stake in the venture to Coca-Cola Enterprises, the biggest U.S. Coca-Cola distributor that is held 46 percent by the Coca-Cola Co.

The deal will make Coca-Cola Enterprises the sole bottler of Coca-Cola and Cadbury Schweppes products in England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man _ but EC approval will be necessary.

Virgin, which trails Coke and Pepsi, fears the deal will tilt the market even further in Coke's favor.

Virgin accuses Coca-Cola Schweppes of employing various unfair tactics that encourage retailers to stock Coke instead of competing brands such as Virgin Cola or Pepsi, for example by offering discounts to stores that refuse to sell the rival drinks.

``We believe Coke has managed to keep its dominance not just because of the brand but because it is misusing its dominant position,'' Branson said.

Coca-Cola Schweppes said Virgin's complaint covers matters already resolved by British monopoly regulators, who five years ago ordered some changes in the way Coke's beverages are marketed in Britain.

``We would point out that these allegations seem to ignore the findings of the U.K. Monopolies and Mergers Commission inquiry in 1991 into the U.K. carbonated soft-drinks market,'' a spokeswoman said.