The company that publishes the Guinness Book of Records is to get a new owner under a £45.5 million buy-out deal announced today.

Current owner Diageo, the British drinks giant, has agreed to sell the Guinness World Records business to family entertainment studio Gullane Entertainment. The deal is expected to be completed this month.

Gullane, which owns the rights to children's characters Sooty, Thomas the Tank Engine and Captain Pugwash among others, said it expected the new acquisition to boost its earnings in the year to June 2002.

'Guinness World Records is an outstanding intellectual property which significantly enhances Gullane's position as a family entertainment studio,' said Gullane chief executive William Harris. 'We believe the Guinness World Records brand will benefit enormously from our expertise in content production and distribution.'