Chile's beer giant Companias Cervecerias Unidas (CCU) has bought 50% of microbrewer Kunstmann, which is one of the only Chilean breweries that CCU doesn't already own.

The deal is part of CCU's latest efforts to increase its share in Chile's premium beer market.  Under this same strategy, the company bought Patagonian brewer Austral at the end of 2000.

Kunstmann announced in March that it was seeking strategic partners to expand its distribution throughout Chile, increase production and boost exports.  The company's beers are only available in the central third of Chile and make up only 0.5% of the Chilean market.  The brewer has US$1.5m of sales per year and exports to Japan and the US.

CCU, on the other hand, holds 88% of the market.

It is understood Kunstmann's original owners will remain in control of production.