The German brewer, Bitburger Brauerei, has acquired a 48.97% stake in Wernesgruener Brauerei from the investment arm of Bayerische Landesbank, a state-owned bank.

Bitburger has said that it plans to increase its shareholding to 63% though the deal is contingent on approval from German regulatory authorities.

The other principal shareholder in Wernesgruener is another German brewer, Erfurter Brauerei Riebeck, which acquired a 51.03% stake when Bayerische Landesbank bought its participation. This had followed a lawsuit between the German privatisation agency and the Wernesgruener family.

Employing 235 people, Wernesgruener recorded turnover of €55.2m (US$48.2m) in 2001 and has an annual capacity of 800,000 hls. Since 1990, some €102.3m (US$89.3m) has been invested in new plant and €51.1m ($44.6m) in marketing and promotion.