Rank, the operator of the Hard Rock Cafe chain, has agreed to sell its UK DVD replication business and a UK media distribution business to a subsidiary of Sony for £5.9m. The agreement to sell part of its lossmaking Deluxe Media business has raised the prospect of a Rank break-up although other parts of the Deluxe operation still need to be sold. Deluxe Media has acted as a deterrent to any would-be purchasers. The Financial Times says it is more likely the Rank board will oversee a break-up of its portfolio instead of allow the business to be sold to a financial buyer. The group said it was in talks with several third parties for the disposal of the remainder of Deluxe Media. Rank will give its assessment on Tuesday about the forthcoming smoking ban after the Bingo Association this week described how the Scottish ban had hit clubs hard north of the border. Optimistic investors say the risks are now priced in and argue Rank is in better shape. The Financial Times says the shares, which trade at about 16 times 2006 earnings, may still underestimate the impact of a ban and investors “should seek their jackpot elsewhere”. The newspaper’s Weekend share watch column describes the Hard Rock Cafe franchise as being “in rude health”. The shares fell 0.25p to 199.5p. Financial Times 01/07/06 page 20, page 22 (Weekend share watch) The Times 01/07/06 page 50 (Need to know) The Daily Telegraph 01/07/06 page 28 (Database) Financial Times 01/07/06 page 20, page 22 (Weekend share watch)