The owner of Campari, Cinzano and Ouzo 12 is to sell nearly half of the company's shares to help it buy other drinks brands.
The Italian producer Davide Campari, which is privately owned by the Garavoglia family, is issuing 43.75 per cent of its equity next week.
As the world's ninth biggest spirits company, it wants to take part in the consolidation in the global drinks industry.
According to Reuters news agency, chief executive Marco Perelli Cippo said the public share issue was to fund "future acquisitions".
"We don't need it now but you can't exclude the possibility of a chance for an important acquisition presenting itself, and it gives us the visibility that comes with being quoted," he explained. "Campari is one of the best positioned companies. It is the first national player in Italy's spirits sector and ninth in the world."
According to a prospectus, the company will remain under the control of the Garavoglia family which took over in the 1970s. However, it also revealed that one member of the family, Maddalena Garavoglia, is locked in a legal dispute with her mother, brother and sister over claims that she was forced to sell her stake when she was short of cash.
Gruppo Campari reported a 21 per cent increase in earnings before deductions to £63.7m (104.7m euros) for 2000 and a 19 per cent increase in sales to £264m (434m euros).
Its product portfolio includes spirits, wines, soft drinks and mineral water, distributed in over 190 countries throughout the world. It was founded in 1860 by Gaspare Campari who invented the formula for the Campari aperitif, which remains a family secret.
Two years ago, it bought Cinzano vermouth from Diageo and the anise-flavoured liqueur Ouzo 12 from Greece's Kaloyannis. It has also had the Italian distribution rights to Skyy vodka and Lipton Ice Tea for the past three years.
Campari is handled in the UK by First Drinks Brands while Cinzano has been taken on by Allied Domecq.
Fresh start for Campari (October 11, 1999)