Heineken will not buy Ochakovo, according to the Russian beer maker. Contrary to rumours that Heineken has offered between US$500m and $600m for the company, Ochakovo's commercial director and major shareholder has denied the reports.

Vyacheslav Merkulov, speaking to the Vedomosti business daily last week, said: "Heineken is not buying Ochakovo and there were no such negotiations. There are few companies left in Russia which have purely Russian roots. I think Russia should have a major brewer that should develop Russian traditions in the business. As far as I see, our shareholders and the board of directors share this idea."

In the meantime, the Russian beer and soft drink manufacturer is to carry out an additional issue of 39,400 preferred shares in order to prevent potential problems if any of the company's shares are bought by rivals.

Ochakovo intends to begin production of a foreign licensed beer brand in mid-2004. There is no agreement on this yet and the company is still in talks with several companies from Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic and the US, he told the paper.