RUSSIA - Majority pension fund-owned property firm Sponda is to invest up to €400m in Russia by the end of 2009.

The Finnish firm revealed it plans to invest 10%-20% of the company's balance sheet, having posted third-quarter revenues of  €49.2m, up from €26.5m for the same period last year.

In a presentation to analysts, Sponda CEO Kari Inkinen identified stronger growth in Russian operations as key to the firm's short- and medium-term growth.

Sponda invested €30m in the Russian market in the year to September before completing two major office acquisitions last month - one in development in Moscow for US$47.5m and another in St Petersburg for US$11.5m.

Apart from a 34% state shareholding, Sponda's three largest shareholders are domestic pension providers  - the Finnish state pension fund (0.63%), Ilmarinen (0.42%), and Etera Mutual (0.38%).

In a separate development, Swedish developer Nordic Panorama said it plans to enter the Russian leisure market via the acquisition of a ski resort operator Odyx.

Citing the combination of "mature European assets" and "Russia's tremendous growth potential", the firm said it plans to kit out existing resorts with more log cabins and will also acquire a hotel in Sochi, host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Asked whether lack of market transparency remained an obstacle to investment, spokesman Graham Herring said: "There's very little we can do about it. We can only make sure that, in terms of assets, what's supposed to be there is there."