Erber, the Austrian brandy producer, has been bought, it was announced yesterday. Austrian Pletzer family holding, drinks retailer Morandell, and meat products maker Handl have purchased a third of the company each for an undisclosed sum.

In April 2003 Erber filed for insolvency with debts amounting to €4m (US$5.04m), following a drop in sales and large investments during the 1990s.

Manfred Pletzer and Mario Morandell have been appointed new CEOs at the company. Going forward, Morandell will handle Erber's domestic sales and Handl will deal with international sales. The company's management expects sales in 2004 to reach €2m. In the medium term, the new owners estimate sales will hit €3m.

The new owners intend to keep all 10 of Erber's employees.