Suntory has moved to acquire a 50% stake in Austrian premium spirits producer Mozart Distillerie.

The Japanese company confirmed today (12 June) that it has agreed to buy the stake for an undisclosed amount.

The two companies said that their priority going forward is to increase the presence of the Mozart brand in the global market, particularly in Korea, China, Australia and Russia.

"The tie-up represents both the wishes of Suntory, which is looking to build premium brands in the alcoholic beverages market and expand global sales, and Mozart Distillerie, which is aiming for further business growth," Suntory said.

Suntory has handled the Japanese importation and marketing for Mozart's namesake chocolate liqueur since 1990.

Last month, Suntory was reported to be considering investing up to JPY6bn (US$58m) to expand production and sales of health supplements in South East Asia. The company is setting its sights primarily on South East Asia in a bid to boost overseas sales of health supplements by nearly 70% to JPY50bn by 2010.