The owners of Independent Liquor Ltd believe that interest in Foster's Group could help them in their own search for an equity partner.

Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) and Unitas Capital, the joint owners of Independent Liquor, think that speculation on Foster's may shed light on other opportunities in Australia's drinks industry.

The two private equity companies are seeking an outside investor to help them expand into markets in the US and Asia. A partner is needed to "inject some additional capital" for the expansion, a source close to the situation has told just-drinks today (28 June).

So far, China's Bright Food and Japan's Asahi have been mooted as potential bidders for a stake in Independent Liquor, which was founded in New Zealand but has had production facilities in Australia for the past decade.

The group specialises in RTD alcoholic beverages, but it also has beer and wine operations. If Foster's should fall, then Independent Liquor might become a more attractive asset.

PEP and Unitas acquired Independent Liquor for around NZD1bn (US$800m) in 2006. It is unclear what size of stake the companies plan to sell.