Noteworthy expenditures of the week
The housing crisis has reached Wildcat Ranch, a luxury development near Aspen, Colo. A 501-acre spread owned by cookie mogul Debbi Fields and her husband, Michael Rose, ex-CEO of Holiday Inn, has been on the market since September 2008. Asking price: $28.5 million. Music executive Tommy Mottola's five-bedroom log "cabin," meanwhile, was listed last month at $27.5 million.
Human Resources: $4.9bn
The sum Aon (AON) agreed to pay for Hewitt Associates (HEW), a firm that advises companies on employee pay and benefits. The acquisition by the insurance broker will give rise to the world's largest human resources service company. The HR field is consolidating: Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt completed a $4 billion merger earlier this year.
The amount Weyerhaeuser (WY) is distributing to shareholders via a special dividend. The largest owner of U.S. timberland is converting to a real estate investment trust, a move that will shield most of its earnings from taxes. U.S. law mandates that firms making such a transformation pay out all retained earnings and profits in the first year.
Tyco Electronics (TEL) is paying $1.24 billion for ADC Telecommunications (ADCT), which makes broadband equipment that helps companies and consumers connect to the Web. Switzerland-based Tyco Electronics is the world's largest maker of electronic connectors used in cars and appliances. The acquisition will boost Tyco's sales in the U.S. and China, where Minnesota-based ADC has a strong presence.
An 1839 landscape by J.M.W. Turner fetched $45.1 million at a Sotheby's (BID) auction in London, setting a record for the British artist. The canvas depicting some of Rome's most famous monuments once belonged to the Rothschild family. Its new owner is California's J. Paul Getty Museum.
How much will speed freaks have to shell out for a car that last month set a world record for street-legal cars of 268 miles per hour? Almost $2.5 million. The specs on the new Bugatti Veyron Super Sport include a 16-cylinder engine, a twin-clutch gearbox with seven speeds, and an all-carbon body. The car will go into production this fall. But don't dawdle: The first five to roll off the company's Alsatian assembly line are already spoken for.
Seeking to expand beyond cosmetics, Avon (AVP) is paying $650 million for Silpada Designs. The direct seller of sterling silver jewelry has annual sales of about $230 million in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
Santander (STD) is paying $699 million for 173 German bank branches owned by Sweden's SEB. This is but the latest in a long list of acquisitions for Spain's largest lender. Earlier this year it purchased $3.2 billion in auto loans from Citigroup (C) and bought back almost a quarter of its Mexican unit from Bank of America (BAC) for $2.5 billion. Santander is also bidding for about 300 bank branches in the U.K. owned by RBS (RBS).