Surf lifestyle brand Hot Tuna (International) has bought the remaining 49% stake in its US subsidiary licensee Hot Tuna International Inc.

The company says the move is part of its overall strategy and follows the acquisition of a 51% controlling interest in November 2005.

To fund the purchase, 3,400,000 ordinary shares have been issued to Hot Tuna USA.

Ranjit Murugason, chairman of Hot Tuna, said the acquisition "continues our strategy of gaining direct ownership over the Hot Tuna brand in key global markets.

"Our full control over our subsidiary in the US, which is the world's largest surf clothing market, places the company in a strong position to create maximum traction in this important region."

To strengthen its US operation, Hot Tuna has hired Tim Bernardy as its new chief operations officer and principal executive in charge of the company's US business.

Mr Bernardy joins from O'Neill, one of the leading US surf lifestyle brands, where he was national sales and marketing director.

Bryce Cole has also moved to the company from his previous role as the design director at Perry Ellis for the RedSand brand. Mr Cole will be in charge of the design department at Hot Tuna International Inc, and responsible for all design and production activities.

Headquartered in the UK, Hot Tuna International Plc purchased the 'Hot Tuna' brand from a consortium of investors, listed on AIM in September 2005, and has since started to aggressively market the brand and reinvigorate the business.