Business briefs: Santander | EnerMech | I-Design | Celebrity pub sold

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SANTANDER has agreed to sell its portfolio of UK retail store cards, including those issued by Top Shop and Debenhams.

The UK arm of the Spanish bank said it had reached an “agreement in principle” to sell the business, which has about seven million customers, to SAV Credit. It would be a transformation deal for the specialist credit card lender, owned by US hedge fund Varde Partners.

“We expect to close the deal in the first quarter of 2013,” Santander said in a short statement. Kent-based SAV added: “We see great opportunities in the market.”

Celebrity pub sold in £1m–plus deal

ONE of Scotland’s oldest pubs with a celebrity clientele and its own brewery has been sold in a £1 million-plus deal.

Former Irn-Bru sales director Andy Anderson and business partner Stewart Robertson have taken over the reins at the Fox and Hounds in Houston, Renfrewshire, which dates back to 1779.

A string of showbiz stars, including Neil Diamond, Paolo Nutini and Westlife have visited the former coaching inn, which for the past 12 years has been home to a micro-brewery in the cellar, which produces 2,000 barrels a year.

EnerMech in £3m South Africa swoop

ENGINEERING services firm EnerMech yesterday announced a £3 million acquisition to strengthen its presence in the African oil and gas sector.

The Aberdeen-based company has bought heavy load testing company Water Weights International, headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa.

EnerMech said the deal would accelerate growth of its business in South Africa and in key east and west African countries. The firm plans to invest up to £20m in its African operations over the next three years and to significantly increase its workforce.

I–Design revenues dip but profits rise

I-Design, the Dundee-based maker of software that enables ATM operators to display adverts on their machines, has seen full-year profits more than double despite a 7 per cent dip in revenues.

The firm blamed a downturn in the advertising market for the fall in revenues, which came in at £3.3 million for the year to 30 September, down from £3.5m a year earlier.

However, an increase in software revenues helped push pre-tax profits to £217,000, more than double the previous year’s figure of £105,000. Shares closed down 3.25p at 28.75p.