By Mark Rowe

The OST-Group - one of Russia's largest alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks firms - has announced plans to secure a portfolio investor during the initial public offering (IPO) of its business this year.

Speaking to just-drinks.com, a spokeswoman for OST group, which has more than 30 companies, said that IPO "was still in the early stages", but added: "We think this is an important development for us and we are anticipating strong interest from portfolio investors. The IPO will enable OST to expand."

She said it was seeking an investor to take on OST-group on behalf of a third party, and considered this a major step towards its IPO. In return for taking on the role, the investor will be offered a 15-20% share in OST-Alko and its distribution companies.

OST is seeking both Russian and foreign investment funds, and expects the IPO to finish by the end of the year. The funds raised would be used for new acquisitions. Experts believe that potential investors include foreign investment funds that are setting sights on the Russian alcoholic beverages market.

The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the company would consider a takeover by a foreign company.