Business briefs: Arran Blonde | WH Smith | GIP | Legal & General

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ARRAN Brewery is toasting a 24 per cent rise in sales for its Blonde beer, making it the best-selling craft brew in Scotland during 2012, according to figures from Nielson Research.

Blonde sold £503,000-worth of beer last year, with Innis & Gunn Original selling £490,000 and Harviestoun’s Bitter & Twisted shifting £398,000.

Scottish beers also did well in the broader “ale” category, which includes larger brewers as well as craft outfits. McEwan’s Export, which is owned by Bedford-based Wells & Young’s, topped the league table, with Dublin-based C&C Group’s Tennent’s Special in third place.

• High street stalwart WH Smith is returning to the DVDs and CDs market to see if there is a gap to be filled following the collapse of rival HMV.

Music and films were put back into a handful of WH Smith stores last week. It is understood that further re-introductions will be decided on a store-by-store basis.

WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann had previously withdrawn from the DVD and CDs market to focus on higher-margin products. But the closure of 107 HMV stores has left many high streets without any entertainment retailers.

• The two owners of London City Airport are in talks about rescheduling its £470 million of debts.

Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) owns 75 per cent of London City, with the other 25 per cent stake being held by Highstar Capital.

GIP, which also owns Edinburgh and Gatwick airports, is looking for new borrowings to replace existing five-year debt that matures in October. Royal Bank of Scotland and BNP Paribas are advising.

BAA was forced to sell Edinburgh Airport last year after competition concerns.

• Legal & General, one of the UK’s biggest institutional investors, is pulling the plug on any new private equity deals by its buyout unit, LGV Capital.

L&G is understood to have decided private equity is no longer a core activity, even though its investments are doing well.

However, it is said that LGV Capital will continue to support the current businesses in its portfolio.

These include the Tiger Tiger bar chain and Snow+Rock ski stores. L&G has been supporting private equity deals since 1986, providing half of LGV’s capital.