Japanese confectioner Lotte Holdings Co. has acquired Tokyo-based premium chocolate maker Mary Chocolate Co.

Mary Chocolate is the renowned Japanese confectioner credited with starting the nationwide habit of women giving men chocolates on Valentine's Day.

Facing financial trouble after losing billions of yen on currency exchange derivatives, Mary Chocolate had approached Lotte in November last year for assistance.

Lotte responded with a full buy-out of the company's shares.

Mary Chocolate posted JPY18.6bn (US$202m) in sales and JPY1.9bn in pre-tax profit for the financial year ended 31 August.