Whitbread said on Tuesday that it paid 310 million yuan (US$47.07 million) to seize full control of its Costa Coffee joint venture in South China, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.

“The coffee shop market in China is highly attractive. There is a compelling opportunity for Costa to grow its presence over the longer term,” Whitbread said in a statement.

Costa currently owns 51% of the joint venture. The new deal will see it acquire the remaining 49% from its partner Yueda.

The move was part of the company’s plan to grow internationally, singling out China in particular as coffee culture becomes more popular in the country, Alison Brittain, owner of Whitbread, said.

“This acquisition gives us full strategic and funding flexibility to unlock Costa’s potential in China, and provides a strong platform to facilitate future growth,” she said.

Whitbread also stated that its other joint venture in China, with BHG in the north of the country, remains unaffected, the report added.