Lion Nathan has acquired Inner Circle Rum in Australia.

The trans-Tasman brewer and wine group confirmed the purchase of the trademark and distillery operations, for an undisclosed sum, today (7 March). The move signals Lion's intentions in the direction of spirits and RTDs, to complement its current beer and wine offerings.

"Inner Circle Rum is a brand with strong quality and heritage credentials," said Andrew Reeves, Lion Nathan's managing director. "As brand owner, we will have access to the full profit margin. While the brand is relatively small at this stage, we intend to invest patiently to build the brand and we believe it has great potential.

"Our strong route to market means we are well placed to build a credible position in the spirits and RTDs market via Lion Nathan Australia."

Stuart Gilbert, founder and managing director of Inner Circle Rum, added: "We are delighted to be selling to Lion Nathan, which has a strong record in nurturing premium brands. Lion Nathan's first rate sales and distribution capability means that it is well placed to take the brand to the next level."

Inner Circle Rum is currently available in three full-strength bottled spirit formats and two RTD variants.

Yesterday, Lion Nathan confirmed that it was in talks to sell one of its breweries in New Zealand. "The company is entering into further discussions with a small number of parties with a view to fully understanding the opportunities offered by these expressions of interest," the company said.