Asahi Breweries Ltd. said Wednesday it has reached a basic agreement with Dutch liquor wholesaler Maxxium Worldwide to acquire the exclusive rights to sell Remy Martin and other premium spirits on the Japanese market, excluding Okinawa.

The leading Japanese brewer said it and Maxxium Japan K.K., Maxxium’s Japanese unit, will sign a formal accord by early May.

Asahi said in a news release that the alliance will strengthen its efforts to become a comprehensive alcoholic beverage firm, while it tries to maintain competitiveness in the beer and the “happoshu” low-malt liquor market.

The alliance with the global liquor company will give Asahi the rights to sell such famous brands as Absolut vodka, Famous Grouse Scotch whisky, Cointreau liqueur and Maison Louis Latour wine.

Asahi said it hopes the partnership will nearly double its sales of wines and spirits by 2005.

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